On my last day at the festival I went to see André Téchiné’s drama The Girl on the Train (La fille du RER) a true story of a girl who claims she is the victim of an anti-Semitic attack, a claim which causes political uproar and draws in the president only to be revealed as a lie. Emilie Dequenne is the girl (Jeanne), a rollerblading unemployed twenty-something who lives with her babysitter mother Catherine Deneuve in the Parisian suburbs. When Jeanne meets the boisterous amateur wrestler Franck, he offers her a job as a caretaker and they and live together in a warehouse-like apartment and are paid vast amounts of money. Jeanne comes home one day to find Franck, bleeding to death on the floor with many broken open dvd players which Franck tells her contained cocaine (there was a drug raid, he was stabbed). Franck goes to jail and Jeanne goes insane, slashing herself with a dagger to simulate an anti-Semitic attack on the train. Her mother has a break-down, travelling to a country house with some lawyer friends to rejuvenate.
André Téchiné leaves the character’s motives ambiguous although the film is split in two sections ‘circumstances’ and ‘consequences,’ the film is presented more as a picture of a girl trying to find herself. The multi-stranded effect to the narrative left me feeling unsatisfied and I left the cinema feeling like there were many unanswered questions. While the acting performances were convincing, the focus on the characters instead of the effects on the outside world and bigger questions concerning race issues in France, left me feeling detached from what could have been a more startling and gripping news piece.
André Téchiné has produced greats such as Les Voleurs and Rendez-Vous in years past, and his most recent upheld his reputation; giving an intimate look at human emotion. Watch the trailer for The Girl on the Train here: