The Man on the Train

Poster for The Man on the Train

Autumn 2003 Main series

Sunday, November 30, 2003 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 30, 2003 at 7:00pm
Monday, December 1, 2003 at 7:00pm

Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS

Directed by


Rated NR · 1h 30m

Acclaimed director Patrice Leconte (The Widow Of St. Pierre, Ridicule) brings his usual mastery of cinematic nuance to the utterly fascinating The Man On The Train, a Gala Presentation at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. Leconte’s casting of Johnny Hallyday (France’s greatest living rock star) and Jean Rochfort (France’s leading stage and screen star) in the two lead roles is cause for excitement in itself. For an English language equivalent to this casting, imagine a cinematic pairing of Elvis Presley with Sir Laurence Olivier! Hallyday plays aging, reluctant gangster Milan, who arrives on the late train in a small French town in the provinces to case a bank. When he discovers the towns only hotel is closed, he meets Manesquier, a retired schoolteacher, in a chance encounter at the late night pharmacy. Talkative, outgoing Manesquier offers Milan a room in his decaying mansion and Milan accepts, seeing a good opportunity to hole up for a few days before the bank job. The two men are a rivetting study in contrasts. Milan, quiet, moody, virile, reserved, a prowler from a world of leather jackets and guns; Manesquier, verbose, convivial, harmless, curious, a scholar from a world of pipes, slippers and classical poetry. Over the course of the next two eventless days, the mismatched pair feel an unexpected pull towards the others habits and lifestyle. Milan, tired of his violent life, becomes interested in Manesquier’s quiet life by the fireplace and likewise Manesquier envies Milan’s macho, gun-toting world of action. An odd friendship grows between the two men, precipitating a mezmerizing crossover of lives with Manesquier becoming eager to take part in the robbery and Milan taking a surprising interest in helping tutor Manesquiers students. When the day of the bank job arrives, Milan’s heart is no longer into the robbery and Manesquier’s plans to help are altered by a trip to the hospital for long awaited surgery. Both are gripped by an overwhelming sense of uncertainty and dread. Hallyday is a revelation as Malin, exuding charisma as the man with a past and questionable future, while Rochfort is masterful as the charming, witty Manesquier, who yearns for more action and adventure. The unexpected chemistry between the two is formidable, driving the film with transfixing pathos and humour to its final bittersweet, transcendental conclusion.

“A triumph of moviemaking, where simplicity rules and emotions get expressed through humor, pathos and moments of surprisingly tenderness.” – Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

“The movie – simple, pure and powerful – makes us feel the intensity of both life in transit and life lived, if only for a moment, in another’s skin.” – Michael Wilmington, The Chicago Tribune

“The movie is as contemplative, gentle, and subdued as it is understatedly funny.” – Geoff Pevere, The Toronto Star

“After the film is over, you want to sigh with joy, that in this rude world such civilization is still possible.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times