Monday 23 April 2018

Movies: The Girl on the Train **

(Club, IFI)

Paul Whitington

Written and directed by nouvelle vague veteran André Téchiné, La Fille du RER is based on an extraordinary true story that shocked France earlier this decade.

After making claims that she'd been assaulted by youths of north African extraction on a suburban train in an anti-semitic hate crime, a 23-year-old Parisian girl admitted that she'd made the whole thing up, causing a storm of controversy. This remarkable event is the inspiration for Téchiné's film, but only part of what becomes a fairly complex ensemble drama.

Emilie Dequenne is Jeanne, a rather pampered and precious young woman who'd rather be out roller-skating and listening to her iPod than finding a job or engaging with the world.

Her mother Louise (Catherine Deneuve) coddles her, and is not best pleased when she takes up with a dodgy-looking wrestler called Frank (Nicolas Duvauchelle). He persuades Emilie to go and live with him in a warehouse he's watching for a friend, but it's really a front for drug-dealing, and Emilie faces the consequences of her naivete when Frank is stabbed by a dealer. While her mother persuades a lawyer to help her daughter, Emilie is about to resort to desperate measures of her own.

Téchiné's film has moments of real visual verve, but also looks quite ordinary at times, but its biggest mistake is to complicate the potentially fascinating story of Emilie's big lie with too many subplots.

The result is a confusing and jumpy drama, and an opportunity most definitely missed.

Irish Independent

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