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Movie Review: The Man on the Train

Alternate Title: Don't Talk to Strangers

Story: A mysterious stranger moseys into town and quietly things begin to change. Director Patrice Leconte lovingly delivers a quiet, character driven film that is reminiscent of those old Gary Cooper type westerns.

An aging gangster type comes to town to rob the local bank. He meets a retired schoolteacher who puts him up when it is discovered that the town's one hotel is closed for the season. A relationship develops between the two that is tender, giving and utterly surprising. There is not much action but it was easy to allow the subtle direction and minimal dialogue to wash over me.

If you enjoy character studies and quiet films, this one's for you. Keep in mind that this film also won as Best in this year's Venice Film Festival.

Acting: Superb! The acting was the entire film. Jean Rochefort (Lost in La Mancha) won Best Actor for this role in the Venice Film Festival. He was worth the price of admission in this sensitive role as the elderly man who longed for another type of life. Johnny Halliday (France's answer to Elvis) was understated and elegant as the mysterious stranger who arrives in this sleepy French town.

Predilection: None - well, that's not really true. I do like many of the foreign films that are released in this country.

Critters: An owl and a dog in a cameo.

Food: It's French. But, of course there is food. Baguettes and a bakery have a significant role.

Visual Art: One of the scenes takes place in a museum. Art is everywhere in the film from small prints to masterpieces.

Blatant Product Placement: French stuff.

Soundtrack: Guitar to Schumann.

Opening Titles: Stark titles superimposed over a moving train.

Theater Audience: A handful of foreign film advocates.

Predictability Level: Moderate. The ending gives you lots to think about.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would probably be fine. How about some of director Leconte's other films such as: The Girl on the Bridge, The Widow of St. Pierre, Lumiere and Company, Ridicule and The Hairdresser's Husband.

Length: 90 minutes.