Reviews Film


The latest from veteran French writer- director André Téchiné was inspired by a real-life case that provoked a political and media furore in France six years ago, when a young woman confessed to having entirely made up her claim that she had been the victim of a vicious anti-Semitic attack. The Girl on the Train is not, however, a documentary-drama, but a gripping work of cinematic fiction which grapples with what Téchiné has called the ‘human truth’ of the case.

The film is divided into two distinct

parts: the first segment, ‘Circumstances’, examines the home life of jobless rollerblader Jeanne (Emilie Dequenne), who lives in the Parisian suburbs with her childminder mother Louise (Catherine Deneuve) and who embarks on an ill-fated relationship with a new wrestler boyfriend (Nicholas Duvauchelle). The second section, ‘Consequences’, explores the impact of Jeanne’s shocking fabrication, with Louise requesting the services of an old admirer, the high-profile Jewish lawyer Bleistein (Michel Blanc). Dynamically photographed by Julien

Hirsch, The Girl on the Train is powered by series of dramatic contrasts and oppositions: the modest suburban house of Jeanne and Louise for example is far removed from the moneyed, cosmopolitan milieu inhabited by Bleistein and his relatives. And in a fine cast, Dequenne produces an absorbing central performance, which conveys Jeanne’s physicality, her emotional immaturity and also her mysteriousness. (Tom Dawson) GFT, Glasgow, Fri 4–Thu 10 Jun. ACTION/THRILLER THE LOSERS (12A) 97min ●●●●●


The ironic title refers to three police officers that operate within the grey area of the law, where upholding justice and personal interest make uncomfortable bedfellows. Such is the size of Brooklyn’s police force, none of the cops know each other.

Narcotics cop Sal (Ethan Hawke) steals cash from crime scenes to cover the cost of looking after his sick wife (Lily Taylor). Tango (Don Cheadle) works undercover and has been instructed to set up a friend (Wesley Snipes) as the means to garner a promotion. Ellen Barkin makes a brilliant cameo to bust Tango’s balls. The final piece in the jigsaw has Richard Gere playing that other favourite cliché of American cop movies, the officer who only has one week left of work before retirement

Director Antoine Fuqua’s favourite métier (as he showed in Training Day)

is the relationship between master and servant, but this becomes a sideshow in Gere’s story, as all the young cops he has to partner up with are vacuous. His personal vice is that he’s fallen in love with a harlot. The three leads are all perfectly competent in their roles, making the best of the limited material that they’re given. The conundrums and human dilemmas contained in each of these stories are all too obviously drawn for them to appear anything but trite. Yet Fuqua, through his trademark violence and his ability to ramp up tension in every scene, ensures that there is always something interesting to watch on screen. It’s just not necessarily the actors.

The payoff where these characters converge comes at the high price of

bad plotting: huge explanations and coincidences are needed to get the cops into the same building. Nonetheless it seems as though Fuqua doesn’t care about the shortfalls, just as long as the action is atmospheric. (Kaleem Aftab) General release from Wed 9 Jun.

Comic book adaptation The Losers is an oddly appealing movie in spite of its many flaws. Taken at face value, it’s a gritty A-Team derivative that follows a group of soldiers as they attempt to clear their names of a crime they didn’t commit (blowing up a helicopter full of kids). But under Sylvain White’s direction, it’s more a loosely strung- together collection of stylised set pieces that puts tongue-in-cheek revelry above the hyper-violence found in the comics. This does tend to trivialise the drama

and sets an uneven tone, but given White’s eye for spectacularly staged carnage and the winning charisma of its appealing cast there’s still plenty to enjoy, not least in a fantastically OTT slice of villainy by Jason Patric.

Of the losers themselves,

meanwhile, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a credibly sensitive team leader, Zoe Saldana smoulders sassily, Chris Evans adds cocky bravado and Idris Elba some muscular edge. The film loses points for an open

ending that’s somewhat presumptuous but, by then, it’s done enough to make a second outing seem deserved. (Rob Carnevale) General release from Fri 28 May.


Whatever happened to Neil LaBute? After mining a unique seam of jet-black social comedy for In The Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, LaBute has constantly treaded water artistically with ill-conceived projects like the home-invasion thriller Lakeview Terrace or his wayward The Wicker Man remake. Such a run of bad form is no excuse for offering a scene-by-scene, line-by-line remake of 2007’s ultra-lame Frank Oz comedy Death at a Funeral a facile, crude, unloved sub-Richard Curtis farce in which a family’s attempts at mourning are interrupted by internal disputes, a naked man on LSD, and a blackmailing gay dwarf (played by Peter Dinklage in both versions).

LaBute’s only real creative alteration is to provide his version an all-black cast, with Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Avatar’s Zoe Saldana, 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan and Danny Glover amongst those caught up in the scenes of accidental drug-taking, corpse desecration and excrement smearing. Whatever LaBute’s undoubted gifts as a playwright, the promise of his early films seems to have been dissipated on material like this, which is as mindless, mean-spirited, and misogynist as the characters he used to satirise. (Eddie Harrison) General release, Wed 2 Jun.

27 May–10 June 2010 THE LIST 55