Film review: You might want to miss 'Girl on Train'

Published: Friday, May 21 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Emilie Dequenne and Catherine Deneuve star in "The Girl on the Train."

Strand Releasing

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN — ★★ — Emilie Dequenne, Catherine Deneuve, Michel Blanc; with English subtitles (French dialects); not rated, probable R (violence, gore, drugs, slurs, brief sex, brief nudity, profanity); Broadway Centre

Anti-Semitism and so-called "hate crimes" are obviously emotionally upsetting and impassioned issues.

Which makes it even more peculiar that "The Girl on the Train," which deals with both, seems so cool, calm and dispassionate.

In fact, the French-made drama is too aloof and measured, even when things should get more heated and emotional.

It's based on Jean-Marie Besset's stage play "RER," which was allegedly based on a real-life incident. Emilie Dequenne stars as the title character, a troubled twentysomething named Jeanne.

She's been unable to find a job, but she maintains that she's going to find employment with Samuel Bleinstein (Michel Blanc), a wealthy attorney who just happens to be an old friend of her mother.

And in the meantime, Jeanne has just moved in with her martial artist boyfriend, Frank (Nicolas Duvachelle).

But then Frank is stabbed and is subsequently imprisoned as a result of a drug deal gone bad. (Frank is covering up for some of his sketchier friends.)

So the despondent Jeanne begins cutting and nearly mutilating herself, claiming that she's been the victim of an anti-Semitic attack on a train.

Jeanne's mother (Catherine Deneuve) and Bleinstein are both convinced that her false claims are a cry for help and are determined to help her.

Unfortunately, as played by Dequenne, Jeanne, a manipulative, pathological liar, is not a particularly likable character.

And if anything, we're much more interested in the characters played by Deneuve (as radiant as ever) and Blanc. Their backstory would be something we'd probably be more interested in seeing depicted here.

"The Girl on the Train" is not rated but would probably receive an R for strong, sometimes disturbing violent content and imagery (knife play and a stabbing, brawling and wrestling, and self-imposed violence, including violence against women), gory and bloody imagery, drug content and references (narcotics), derogatory language and slurs (based on nationality and ethnicity), a brief sex scene, as well as other sexual contact, brief female nudity, and scattered strong profanity. Running time: 105 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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