Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

Bruno Todeschini and Vincent Perez in Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

 

 

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

 

 Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train – at Amazon

 

 

 

Le Bossu

Daniel Auteuil and Marie Gillain in Le Bossu

 

 

 

Daniel Auteuil, Jean Reno, Gerard Depardieu. Where are the barrel-chested Brit equivalents to these beefy action men of the French cinema? But then, Brits are all gay, aren’t we? Take this fine, roistering spectacle, a dashingly charming entertainment in which Auteuil plays a D’Artagnan-like figure, all flashing swords and teeth. The story has been made into a film five times before, and is in the tradition of the Count of Monte Cristo – revenge is its beating heart – as it follows 18th century swordsman the Chevalier de Lagardère (Auteuil) through long patient years, disguise as a hunchback, political intrigue, love from an unexpected quarter, until he finally faces down the dastardly Gonzague (played by the brilliant boulevardier Fabrice Luchini), to avenge the death of his friend years before. It’s a bit of a sprawling rococo epic, with some nice contemporary touches thrown in – the surprisingly different attitudes of the able-bodied towards the hunchback (Bossu) of the title, for instance. Plus there’s sex – this is a French film – and some of the finest swordplay since Errol Flynn finally sheathed his weapon. Swashbucklers might not be fashionable and Auteuil might not be the first person you’d call if casting one, but the French take them seriously and in the stylish hands of seasoned director Philippe de Broca such objections can easily be swatted aside.

© Steve Morrissey 1998

 

Le Bossu (aka On Guard) – at Amazon