p'AirlnioE LECONTE

Throughout his extensive career French director Patrice Leconte has displayed an unerring ability to switch between genres and styles, yet connecting many of his diverse films (including The Hairdresser’s Husband, The Girl on the Bridge and The Widow of Saint-Pierre) is the theme of the unlikely encounter. In his latest, L’Homme du Train (The Man on the Train), a retired schoolteacher (Jean Rochefort) in a provincial town offers a room in his family home to an ageing bank robber (Johnny Hallyday). Both men, it emerges, yearn for each other’s life and both regret the roads not


Predictably there were complaints in the British press when it was announced that the UK Film Council was spending £500,000 on a foreign language film starring an ageing French rock star (although Leconte never wavered in his decision to cast Hallyday). He'd met the latter at an awards ceremony in 1998, where the musician told the filmmaker that ‘someday, I'd like to be filmed by you.‘ Leconte eventually came up with the idea of the seemingly eccentric pairing of Hallyday and Rochefort (one of his regular leading men),

reckoning that ‘whenever you work with major people and major actors like Johnny and Jean,

and whenever you write a film for them specifically. of course you benefit from their own previous image, and you save time. When you see Johnny Hallyday stepping out of the train in that deserted railway station with that look and that bag, you immediately know the character.‘ Presumably. however, given that Rochefort had to leave the aborted production of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (as documented in Lost in La Mancha) on medical grounds, Leconte must have had concerns about the veteran actor’s stamina and well-being. ‘Yes,’


RAM" (12) 90min 0...

Wistfully moving, dream-like table

A taciturn stranger. Mrlan itlohnni, Hallydatl, gets off the train at a provincial l rench town, his only luggage a battered holdall containing guns. Since the local hotel is closed. he accepts the often 9‘ a room in the cluttered mansior‘ ot a garrtilous r'etir'eo schoo'teacher, Manesguier (Jean Rochetorh. who's 0:in too hatth to regale his unexpected guest With his stories, recollections and observations. HOVJOVG'. that weekend Miian plans WIII‘. his atCt:()rrrpl.ces to rob the local bank, on file ven day that the

loneh M2tll(-)f§(llll(;‘l Will undergo a triple heart by pass operation

A Wistfiilly lll()‘.’lll{j. drean: like tahle about regretting the road not taken. ("Horn/ire (li/ lrain is stylishly orchestrated by the ever versatile director Patrice l econte. Each of the lead actors has their own iriiisi(;al Ieitmotil and their own lighting scheme: Schubert and warirt, brown tones for Hochefort: Hy (Zooder and cold. ritetallic hues for Hallyday. And each is shown to yearn for the other's exrstence: the former French teacher dreams of a life ot leather-jacketerl adventure and risk taking I." the Nevada desert. while the ageing criminal yearns to sit in front of the fire With a pipe. slippers and book.

Many of Leconte's films have a IlllTOKBSS sensibility. not least in their titles. The impressively atted L'l-lorrvne du Ira/n, With :22; echoes of Arrierican westerns ideserted streets. one totirig mystery man), is no exception. ’dl‘tl ooth the main chauaoters fully deserve sc'eentarzter Claude Klotx's LllTif' llllléllel} riiagical coda. iltw Dawson;

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Se ested release from Fr; 27 Mar: See preview. {/76 page,

admits the affable director, ‘I was worried about his health problems. I wanted to show him the new impressionist painter.‘ he explains. “Painting is script for L’Homme du Train and I was worried how solitary work, which you can do whenever you feel I would find him after that experience. I was afraid he might be disappointed and really down - in fact he was quite okay. Though inside of himself there was a wound, I think, and quite a deep one.’

Shot, scored and edited with pleasurable


Eccentric pairing of Hallyday and Rochefort

I weren‘t a director, I would like to have been an

like, whenever you want. In the cinema it's different: you have a crew of 60 people, there are timetables and budgets and it‘s expensive and complex. I am very fond of cinema, but from time to time, I feel like having some time on my own.‘

assurance, L’Homme du Train speaks to our (Tom Dawson) powerful desire to experience somebody else’s life It 'r ' r a : 'i'.‘ a" 3" ~ :.' out of dissatisfaction with our own. So, does r' "i 7 ;' ..~ ', ,.'e,'

Leconte ever dream of a life away from cinema? ‘If ‘w' W . '1' 3e- " a i .-

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Visual majesty, shallow symbolism

" ./ ' '.’ :' /',,'1THE LIST 23