... and if you compare this polished black jewel of a film with anything made in English, you'll have to recognize why they still hold the patent!
Milan, the hard silent menacing dude played by Johnny Hallyday, arrives by train in the 'deadest' small town in France, intending to rendezvous with other baddies and knock off the local bank. The local hotel is closed for the season, but Milan is taken in by Monsieur Manesquier (Jean Rochefort), a retired teacher of literature ensconced alone and lonely in a dilapidated family mansion. The two unlikely men gradually open to each other. No more details! You'd have to be there, as they say. But the acting is fabulously 'real', especially from Rochefort. The script is wry and snarly, very "noir" indeed. The camera work is lean and gritty, more indigo than noir since many of Milan's scenes are shot in infra-red, revealing the heat of his face and hands while rendering all else ghostly. "Noir" is all about mood, and this film brilliantly captures the mood of resentful resignation in both men. The ending is exactly what one knows it must be. In fact, if you don't KNOW what the ending must be by the end of the first quarter hour, and if you aren't sadly gratified when it comes, you're no true connoisseur of "noir" and should stick to Mel Gibson films.
On a cold weekday a single passenger gets off the train at a French village. The hotels are closed for the season, but he meets an elderly retired school teacher who offers him shelter. The first man is Milam (Johnny Hallyday), a tough, middle-aged criminal who plans to rob the village's bank on Saturday. The other is Manesquier (Jean Rochefort), an educated, aging man of limited means who still occasionally takes in a student to tutor. He will have a triple by-pass heart operation on Saturday. … more
MAN ON THE TRAIN is a minor miracle of a film. The quiet story of how two wholly opposite aging men meet, interact, exchange philosophies, and mutate because of a simple chance meeting is not only fine writing, it is also a virtuoso turn for the talents of Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday. Rochefort is a loquacious, bored, congenial poetry teacher in semi-retirement, a man who not only loves to talk about Schumann but plays Schumann on his piano in his very old and boring house - and reads and … more
You wouldn't think a movie that's mostly two old guys talking could be a thriller, but that's exactly whatMan on the Trainis. French singer Johnny Hallyday plays a professional criminal who comes to a small town to take part in a robbery. By chance, he meets talkative Jean Rochefort (The Hairdresser's Husband), who invites the laconic Hallyday to stay at his house because the hotel is closed. The two form an unlikely friendship, each curious about (and envious of) the other's life. But all the while plans for the robbery continue, while Rochefort is preparing for a dangerous event of his own. The pitch-perfect performances makeMan on the Traincompletely involving. Rochefort and Hallyday play off of each other beautifully; it's impossible to put your finger on what makes these subtle, supple scenes so magnetic. Directed with spare authority by Patrice Leconte (Ridicule).--Bret Fetzer