“The Girl on the Train” Is Based on a Lie
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
You’ve probably been following the recent news story about a guy accused of making a false claim that his Toyota accelerated uncontrollably. Sure, the Japanese automobile maker has had some serious problems with that. But why would someone make up a fake incident?
This topic of falsified reports reminds me of “The Girl on the Train,” a film that’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. Based on an actual news event, it tells the story of a young woman who pretends to have suffered an anti-Semitic attack while on a suburban Paris train. But it’s a lie.
Following a rejection by her boyfriend, she deliberately cuts herself and paints swastikas on her body, then concocts a tale about being attacked by six Arab youths who mistake her as being Jewish.
A hate crime, it’s called on television.
The girl’s shocked by all the media frenzy her story engenders. What’s the big deal? she wonders after admitting the falsehood to her mother. Mom thinks her daughter needs a lawyer, so she calls an old friend with whom she once had a fling. The Jewish lawyer finds himself embroiled in an emotional challenge. Should his client go to jail?
Directed by André Téchiné (“Wild Reeds,” “My Favorite Season”), the film features several of his favorite stars. Michel Blanc, who plays the lawyer, is a Téchiné regular. Catherine Deneuve is the girl’s mother. And Emilie Dequenne is the naive girl who cried wolf.
I once met Catherine Deneuve at a friend’s New York photography studio. She was as lovely in person as on the screen. At that time she was living with a French TV exec, best friend of Key West’s Michel Toulouse. “I’m tired of playing beautiful women,” she told me. In this supporting role, she’s hoping the thought-provoking storyline will distract you from her onetime designation as the “most beautiful woman in the world.”
André Téchiné belongs to a second generation of French film critics associated with Cahiers du cinema, the publication that spawned such noted directors as Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Goddard. He’s known for films that explore the complexities of the human condition.
“The story became the mirror of all French fears,” says Téchiné. “A revelation of what we call the collective unconscious. How an individual’s lie is transformed into truth with respect to the community at large and its fears. It’s a truly fascinating subject.”
“The Girl on the Train” is a study of the psychological truth behind lies. Its French title is “La fille du RER,” a reference to the Réseau Express Régional, the train that connects Paris with surrounding regions. Like the train in its title, the film takes its audience on an interesting ride.
[from Solares Hill]