Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Man on the Train" (Language - French) (2002) - Movie Classics

Patrice Leconte’s “Man on the Train” is a silent symphony of yearnings and longings. It is one of those french films which has a class without condescension. It lives on a throne but does not boast on its richness. It is in its abundance of subtleties manufactures the tenderness amongst tough men and the courage in the sublime. The parallel in two person’s life of opposite styles of existence which sometimes reeks of loudness than silence does not murk this feature of such a study. It has two men envying the other. The small steps in their irreversible lives are documented in this lovely film, “Man on the Train”.

In a town where night life is a stroll in a pharmacy store comes a stranger (Johnny Hallyday). He asks for aspirin and coming out realizes he needs water. Another customer (Jean Rochefort) invites him to his house. Does some one do that to a stranger? We realize that the old man Manesquier has his reasons to do that. Nothing underlying but coming Saturday he goes for a major surgery. He has lived a life of routine. Immovable and the boring routine of normalcy has left him to the rusted property his mother gave him and the students who has lost interest in poetry. He talks as though silence would make him cry. In comes the stranger who does not ask questions, does not refuse help and carries a silence and loneliness close to his heart. Both are yet startled by each other. The stranger departs and returns with a closed hotel. The old man says he knew and the stranger does not get angry or annoyed of him telling that before. Each understand the purpose of that. Manesquier did not want to impose and the stranger the same but both are glad in their own way.

The stranger named Milan has come with guns. He wears a leather jacket with an eye that looks with a command and electricity. He has a purpose for his visit. Manesquier does not ask but knows it. He wears Milan’s jacket and plays cowboy in front of mirror, then smiling content with a little embarrassment and awkwardness at his own presence. When this is happening, Milan meets up with his accomplices and scouts a local bank for a Saturday hold up. Each men at their wrinkled skin forming another fold as the day goes stand at an uncertain future. Last wishes are not said but done as though saying it would bring the tragedy to reality.

We live a life of unfulfilled dreams and regrets in the blinks. The art that never took off, the instrument that was never played, the game that was never mastered and the women (the end is intentional). Instead there sprouts experts at jobs they never loved, commuters of the road sinking an inch with the marching of the crowd and return back without a millimeter of sidestep to the locked door in to the safety of boredom. The thrive to be secure has driven the lives into the claws of washed up stability. While that is been done, there is an awe in the concept of “The Matrix” because there is a desperate cry for freeing up from an event bigger than the whole world. That is the only way these shackled chains of routine can be powdered. There needs a reason big enough beyond the world to do something outrageous. That is the adventure life Manesquier seem to have missed and longs. He fantasizes a bank hold up where he has been a customer for forty years. Of course he would do it without any blood sheds because the guilt would eat up the adrenaline fun. His heart still beats faster hearing new sounds at his house and asks his gardener why he is not used to his visit even after twenty years. He has dined in a restaurant for thirty years and has put up with the ruffians who visit now and then. Look the time frame Leconte poses through the character who says to himself on the regularity he has learned to live and accept.

Milan a curt man also unleashes the sword of naked truth sporadically. He is often restless but begins to be amused and amazed at the loudness of Manesquier’s talks and the calmness of the his house, job and silence. He sees the book, piano and the invisible cracks in the wall. He has lived through a duffle bag and wandered through the country. Women on the go and guns to marry, his legs are tired of boots and beckons slippers. Manesquier gifts him one and tells it does not suit him but Milan does not care. He understands Manesquier’s frustration while Manesquier empathizes the same with him. Leconte does not waste scenes in flash back but relies on these two actors. Their bond which develops with few words ends in an eye flash of fantasy fulfilled in a moment of unrealism.

“Man on the Train” which in my first viewing three to four years back began as something of an action film and ended with the same yearning the characters get. Years passed and now it instigates the same. The music of Pascal Esteve is one of the weirdest score I have heard and also one of the most nostalgic and classy too. When we first hear it as Milan sits in the train, we are puzzled by this odd rhythm. It sounds as a discord of tunes but then it forms a shape of everything these characters go through. Brotherhood, loneliness, adventure, care and longings forever.

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