La fille du RER

La fille du RER




Was I deceived? Was I played? Yes. But not in the way you may think. Andre Techine’s  new film is all set up for mystery with all of the mystery removed. And it knows it. And it plays on the cinematic shorthand and conventions of the mystery setup…

….and then the film simply plays out.

It involves a girl on the train,  Jeanne, who gets involved with a troublesome stranger, Franck, who gets himself arrested. He lashes out at her when this happens and she…invents a attack on the train…as the newscasts tell us during the film that there have been a rash of anti-Semitic attacks in the area. Only Jeanne isn’t Jewish. Her mother, played by the great Catherine Deneuve suspects that she is lying, and tries to get her help before she digs her way in too deep.

What did I think about all this? Well I was totally taken in by the narrative. Long shots and  fade outs, and music chords at the right moment all anticipated some mysterious turning. I suppose that did happen when she inexplicably fakes an attack for attention. Perhaps it was Techine’s way of involving an audience in a tale that would be otherwise hard to tell in an enrapturing way. Maybe it is to get us in the mind of the enigmatic Jeanne, who skates through life never seeming to know what awaits her next turn. The film certainly doesn’t allow us to anticipate what will happen.

The film is masterfully directed to a fault, with brilliant shot and music choices with just make me feel like maybe this film was a bit of a magic trick. I boarded the train and Andre suggested that he would take me on a dark mystery ride. But the ticket was for a character study of characters that we don’t quite understand, because even they don’t.

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