THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (15) *** DIRECTED BY: ANDRÉ TÉCHINÉ STARRING: ÉMILIE DEQUENNE, CATHERINE DENEUVE, MATHIEU DEMY
FRENCH director Andr Techin's new film is based on a true tale of a young gentile woman who, in 2004, falsely claimed to be the victim of an anti-Semitic attack, setting off a media furore in the process. Using a fictionalised story to delve into the sociopolitical ramifications of the case, the film begins by focusing on Jeanne (milie Dequenne), the titular fantasist.
Jeanne has little in common with her single mother (Catherine Deneuve), has a dodgy self-obsessed boyfriend, and little real interest in engaging with the world, and Techin uses these details to speculate on her motivations, implying her actions are a pathetic cry for attention.
In the second half, however, we switch perspective to a powerful Jewish lawyer (Mathieu Demy), and former friend of Jeanne's mother, and witness the consequences of Jeanne's lies on his fractious family life.
It's an interesting approach, avoiding didactic hand-wringing in favour of elliptical character drama, and though it doesn't provide answers, it is well acted and does a good job of showing the far-reaching implications that thoughtless actions can have.