The Girl on the Train – Fateful Freewheeling

This is my review of The Girl on the Train [DVD] [2009].

Triggered by the real-life incident of a girl who claimed to be the victim of an anti-semitic attack in Paris, this is a tale of cause and effect, the consequences of a random conjunction of events.

Beautiful but scatty, Jeanne’s half-hearted attempts to obtain work as a secretary lead by chance to an interview at the office of successful Jewish lawyer Samuel Bleistein, sometime admirer of her widowed mother played by Catherine Deneuve. Jeanne’s habit of rollerblading everywhere, red hair blowing in the wind, brings her to the notice of an enigmatic, uncomfortably direct and determined young man, Frank. Through a sequence of events, we see how Jeanne is driven to take a dramatic course of action but her motivation for this remained unclear to me.

Beautifully shot with many passing insights into human behaviour and relations, some moments of humour, shock over unexpected violence, or pathos (such as sympathy for Bleistein’s grandson Nathan with his self-absorbed, capricious parents), the film has a fragmented quality, and one observes it without feeling very moved. Although the sense of building up to some kind of dramatic climax held my attention, the rather flat, admittedly realistic ending left me feeling a little dissatisfied.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars

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