Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cry Wolf: La Fille du RER

La Fille du RER/The Girl on the Train (2009) - Téchiné
The film is based on a true event about a girl who cried wolf an anti-semitic attack in France. But instead of some overblown harrowing courtroom drama, The Girl on the Train is a typical Téchiné character study that is nuanced and subtle. Émilie Dequenne (from The Dardenne bros Palm d'Or winner Rosetta, now all grown up) plays Jeanne, an unemployed post-teenage girl living with her mom who runs a daycare from her home in Paris suburb. After an emotional break up with her new boyfriend, Jeanne decides to cut herself up, draw swastikas on her stomach and file a false report. But that doesn't occur until the midway of the film.

It's the first movie I've seen where Téchiné directly weaves topical theme in to his narrative even though the changing face of French society has always been present in many of his modern-day set films. Any violent attack against specific religion, race, culture is a heavy subject and can't be dealt lightly. And I can see Téchiné trying to show Jeanne's reason for her action by building her character up slowly to where it all plays out. Jeanne is a typical pretty young French redhead rollerblading everywhere with her head forever attached to her music player; all in all, pretty ordinary. She is not portrayed as some dumb girl who feigns an attack because she wanted attention, nor are her actions treated with sentimentality.

There are many really great scenes with Jeanne and Franck (Nicolas Duvauchelle) as they rollerblade around the streets and a 13 year old Jew boy on the eve of his Bah Mitzvah sharing a tiny hut over night with half naked Jeanne. But even with Catherine Denueve, Dominic Blanc and Duvauchelle playing strong supporting roles, The Girl with the Train is hard film to like since it doesn't give the audience any easy answers. It's way too subtle and at the same time all too human.

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