The Girl on the Train (La Fille du RER)

Rated NR 105 min. 2010

Jeanne (Emilie Dequenne) is a beautiful, aimless young woman who spends her time rollerblading through the streets of Paris. When an intense, forceful young man Franck (Nicolas Duvauchelle) catches sight of Jeanne rollerblading, her life comes into focus and seems to have direction and meaning. They skate side by side, make love, and watch each other with the anxiousness and yearning of two people utterly enchanted by each other. Franck devises a way for them to be even closer, making them caretakers at a shop where Franck is secretly supervising a cache of drugs, a situation that unravels disastrously. While the majority of The Girl on the Train centers on Jeanne’s relationship with her mother and with Franck, the crux of the film is based on a real-life incident — which director André Téchiné introduces in the second half of the film — instigated by Jeanne after Franck’s arrest. Jeanne scrawls swastikas on her belly, cuts herself, and claims it was a gang of non-white Paris youths who did the deed. The attack, and subsequent revelation that it was faked, captivated the nation and illustrated the racial tensions underlying French society. But Jeanne’s feigned attack is a strange detour from what had been a convincing, if vague, character study of a flighty, lovelorn girl. Téchiné uses the incident to tentatively explore the racial tensions simmering beneath French society, but the social commentary feels wildly underdeveloped.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: André Téchiné

Writer: Odile Barski and Jean-Marie Besset

Producer: Saïd Ben Saïd

Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Émilie Dequenne, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Michel Blanc and David Barbas

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