Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

Man on the Train

The title character, played by French rocker Johnny Halliday, is a hard-nosed, increasingly hard-pressed hood. In town for a heist, he accidentally meets a reclusive, poetically inclined teacher (Jean Rochefort). The former moves into the latter's house and each comes to want the other's life, with results that are wry, sad and instructive in the way good French melodramas, from Pepe Le Moko to Breathless, once routinely were. Director Patrice Leconte remembers, and recreates the old black magic with stunning intelligence and wit.