The Girl on the Train [La Fille du RER] Movie Review
Skater girl Jeanne (Dequenne) lives in a Paris suburb with her helpful mum Louise (Deneuve). When meets another skater, Franck (Duvauchelle), their romance develops quickly. And she decides to move in with him rather than take an offered job as a secretary for a legal firm headed by Samuel (Blanc), a renowned specialist in cases involving anti-Semitic violence who has a past connection with Jeanne's parents. But when things go wrong she does something that has severe consequences.
Techine's filmmaking is warm and sensuous, immediately drawing us in simply because we recognise these people and situations as authentic. And as he deepens the story, it becomes politically intriguing as well, touching on issues from internet dating to racial clashes. Techine also continually insinuates that these people are capable of making big mistakes in their efforts to find happiness and security.
The performances are shaded and natural, offering brief glimpses of internal emotions as everyone seems unsure of themselves and their effect on each other.
The developments of the plot are sudden and sometimes shocking, but never sensationalised, and we really feel the impact of events on the characters. At the centre, Dequenne brings a steely vulnerability to this naive young woman whose life is punctuated by train journeys.
Meanwhile, there's a strong sense of past decisions and consequences in the tentative, delicately played scenes between Deneuve and Blanc. And side roles for Elkabetz (as Samuel's assistant and former daughter-in-law), Demy (as Samuel's son) and Quaegebeur (as their about-to-be Bar Mitzvahed son) add texture and meaning, especially as the plot develops. In some ways, there's too much going on in this film: parent-child issues, hate crimes, romantic desperation, relational fallout. But Techine gently puts us into these situations, forcing us to examine our own decisions and motives, which is all too rare in the cinema these days.