A bunch of reasonably familiar French faces (Charles Berling, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi among them) all get together in a talky French Big Chill sort of affair, concerned with the interaction of lots of individuals, as was director Patrice Chéreau’s recent Queen Margot. Though here we’re in the present day and Chéreau’s characters are heading off to the funeral of one of their number, a bisexual painter (Trintignant, who also plays his own brother) who’s had them all, one way or another. And they’re on the train, as his will commanded – he’s controlling them in death as he did in life. En route they expose themselves and each other, to their discomfort and for our fun. One does drugs, the other’s pregnant, a third’s a philanderer and so on – this is high-tone soap, with characters composed not so much of traits as defects. But surely this Gallic raggle-taggle group learn something and become better people as train barrels towards Limoges and they consume coffee and smoke emphatically? Mais non, this is a French film, you silly sausages, nothing ’appens at all. The slight twitting of national stereotypes aside, Train is full of great performances, it has a hipster soundtrack of PJ Harvey, Jeff Buckley, Massive Attack, Portishead, its largely handheld camera has rapier attack, it’s tasteful, it’s bourgeois, it’s adult. It’s, you know, a bit of a pain.
© Steve Morrissey 1999