The Girl on the Train
Running Time: 105 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
La Fille du RER is loosely based on an incident in 2004 where a young Jewish French girl made false accusations that she had been abused in an anti-semetic assault by a gang on a train. This film however doesn’t concentrate on the major kerfuffle that the incident caused in France, rather, it’s more a fictionalised coming-of-age drama with Jeanne (Dequenne) at the centre. Jeanne is an aimless twenty-something who is struggling to find a job even with her mother’s (Deneuve) help who sets her up with an unsuccessful interview with a radical lawyer (Blanc). After this failure she goes back to her former life of rollerblading and meets arrogant young wrestler (Demy) who gets her into a few scrapes with drug dealers and the like. Her life then begins to tumble out of control towards the infamous incident.
Although credit has to be given for an attempt at a complex emotional drama that does stay away from melodrama, centring the story on the in-and-outs of Jeanne’s homelife, skirts around the wider social issues and this seems like a missed opportunity. The pacing is ambling and disjointed and major problem with La Fille du RER lies in that it contains a medley of deeply unlikeable characters. Jeanne galls with her stupidity and her boyfriend is aggressive and a bit of an arse. Only Catherine Deneuve really acquits herself well as Jeanne’s mother and friend. Jeanne’s meltdown is never really explained too well as it seems like she only made these accusations because she’d had a few crappy days, although the drama does pick up once the incident finally takes place.
La Fille du RER is quite similar to La Haine, the film that propelled Vincent Cassel to international stardom, but the former, set in the aftermath of riots in Paris, was far more absorbing, had better characterisation and used it’s setting better. In the end, André Téchiné’s effort is a little too even and unrewarding.
It's Got: A decent performance from Catherine Deneuve, some unlikeable characters.
It Needs: More to be made of the wider social context.
Alternatives:Europa Europa, La Haine, The Believer
A rather uneven affair that suffers from unlikeable characters and the bypassing of an interesting wider social context.