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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Man on the Train



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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted November 26 2003 - 08:30 AM

Posted Image

Man on the Train



Studio: Paramount

Year: 2003

Rated: R

Length: 90 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio: DD 5.1 French

English Subtitles

Release Date: November 25, 2003





A man (Milan) gets off a train in a French provincial town. It is November, and the town, devoid of tourists and the like, is all but deserted. He has a headache, and so he goes to a pharmacy for some aspirin. It is there he has a chance encounter with and older man (Manesquier), a local retired teacher.

Manesquier, a lonely old man, lives near the pharmacy and invites the new stranger to his place for a glass of water, for his soluble aspirin. It’s obvious that the older man is lonely, and Milan takes him up on the offer - and listens to his stories (the history of the house, the fact that it’s always unlocked because he lost the key...). After a fashion, Milan thanks the older man for his hospitality and walks to the nearby hotel, which he finds is closed - it’s the off-season. The older man knows this, and accepts the stranger readily into his home as a guest when he reappears awhile later.

We find that the stranger is in town to rob the local bank... and we also find that Manesquier knows this (he’s sharper than we are led to believe). The older man appreciates Milan’s adventurer spirit, while not condoning the criminal aspect. And Milan has a great respect for the older gentleman as well.

The robbery is planned for Saturday at 10:00 AM, the same day that Manesquier is scheduled to undergo triple heart bypass surgery. While the men get to know each other and learn from each other, they form an unexpected friendship. They are both given the opportunity to reflect on their lives, and to momentarily explore the paths they did not take in life. They are also on a collision course with their own destinies - scheduled for 10:00 AM on Saturday.

The ending is lyrical and abstract, allowing (in a way) the men to experience that alternate path in life.

This is a quiet, poetic film about friendship. It’s a “what if” at a personal level, where two men, strangers, can fantasize about what could have been, had they made different choices.

Milan is played by French rock icon Johnny Hallyday. Manesquier is played by Jean Rochefort. The film is directed by Patrice Leconte.

The Video
Man on the Train is anamorphically enhanced and brought to you in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Most of the film is painted with a slightly cool palette, with saturation a touch subdued. At a certain point, for effect, the palette warms, and saturation increases. The picture is quite sharp with no obvious signs of edge enhancement. Grain is mild to moderate throughout, from the original elements. This is quite a nice transfer.

The Audio
Man on the Train is in French, with a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and French Surround. There is no English soundtrack, but English subtitles are on by default in this region 1 release. The soundtrack is as casual as you would expect, given the nature of the film. Music and ambient effects make use of the surround channels, and LFE is minimal. Dialog is pinned front and center, with some panning for off-screen dialog. There are few sound effects in the film, since it is a character and dialog driven piece.

Final Thoughts

This is a refreshing and unusual film about two men, from different paths, coming together and discovering each other’s worlds. It’s a good transfer of both audio and video on an otherwise bare-bones release.

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted November 26 2003 - 08:38 AM

Thanks... it's always nice to see reviews on foreign films/DVDs. Posted Image

This is a great little film.

Glad to hear that Paramount didn't chince on the transfer.

Ebert wrote a nice review of the film that really makes you appreciate how well crafted it is.

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA

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Posted November 26 2003 - 10:37 AM

Saw this in the theater, Excellent movie. Slow paced yet deeply involving, I picked this up on Tuesday, surprised to see it at my local BB, along with Legend of Suriyothai!

Excellent review!

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Mark Cappelletty

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Posted November 26 2003 - 09:38 PM

Really want to see this, but still wish Paramount would release "The Girl On The Bridge" (VHS-only, alas) too.

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Tom_Bechet

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Posted November 27 2003 - 03:03 AM

I've got the french R2 DVD. quite surprised that Paramount didn't deem the film necessary of having any extras.
anyways. It's a great film with superb acting. (even though I usually don't like Johnny hallyday)


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#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Mario Bartel

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Posted November 27 2003 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for the review. I think this was the best film I've seen so far this year, so this disc may now find its way into my library.

Ditto on the call for Girl on the Bridge.
Mario
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