The Girl On The Train (R15)

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The ViewDunedin Review

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Review byMatthew Turner8/06/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

The Girl On The Train is well acted, has some striking scenes and explores a genuinely fascinating true story, but it's also frustratingly inconclusive and bogged down by slow pacing and superfluous characters.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andre Techine, The Girl On The Train is based on a true story and stars Emilie Dequenne (Rosetta) as Jeanne, an unemployed skater girl who chooses romance with skater boy Franck (Nicolas Duvauchelle) over a possible job as a secretary with Samuel (Michel Blanc), an ex-flame of her mother (Catherine Deneuve). When Franck is wounded and arrested in a drug raid at his caretaking job, he rejects Jeanne and her life spirals out of control when she later claims she has been the victim of a vicious anti-Semitic attack on a local train.

The Good
Dequenne and Duvauchelle are both excellent as the two young lovers and the film is at its strongest when depicting their relationship, particularly the intriguingly edited sequence involving their webcam chats. Blanc is equally good and there's strong support from Mathieu Demy (as Samuel's young son Alex, who becomes smitten with Jeanne), while Deneuve is as eminently watchable as always but seems curiously under-used.

The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Julien Hirsch, and there are several striking images (e.g. Dequenne roller-skating) as well as a handful of offbeat and unusual scenes, most notably the scene between Jeanne and Alex.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the story is fascinating but the script makes it difficult to actually engage with any of the characters, to the point that Jeanne's motivations remain either frustratingly unclear or, worse, insultingly simplistic (e.g. a shot of Jeanne tearing up while watching a documentary about the Holocaust, immediately before her accusation).

In addition, the film spends too much time with superfluous characters (such as the various members of Samuel's family) and suffers from extremely slow pacing in the middle section.

Worth seeing?
The Girl On The Train is strikingly shot and impressively acted but it's also curiously flat for such an emotive and fascinating true story.

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Content updated: 19/04/2019 17:01

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