L'homme du train

France, UK


An ordinary town.
A railway station.
The end of the day.
A Local train pulls in. A man gets off. A solitary figure who has never
been here before.
His name is MILAN, a disenchanted hulk of a man, as battered as the bag
hanging from his shoulder.

A pharmacy that is about to dose. Looking for aspirin to ease a raging
headache, Milan comes across MANESQUIER, a retired school teacher and older
than him.
The pharmacy's green neon light goes out.
The two men find themselves outside in the already deserted street heading
in the same direction.
The two men are complete opposites. Or at least they seem to be.
On the surface.
Wary of each other at first, they grow ever closer together. And for a very
simple reason. Each man realises that what he really always wanted is the
life of the other man.
Mannesquier, the retired man of letters, dreams of having been a man of
action, an adventurer. Milan. the man of few words and a Ute filled with
dangerous incident, dreams of peace and quiet and a nice pair of slippers.

Three days from now Milan is to hold up the Local bank.
It should be routine. Just another job. But he's on edge.
Three days from now Manesquier will undergo a triple heart-bypass.
He puts on a brave face but he's scared stiff.
Three days to get to know each other.
Three days to dream about a different life.
A life that might have been.

Three days before everything goes horribly wrong?

Director's Statement

What was the starting point for the project?

Usually, when a filmmaker is asked this kind of question, he no longer remembers quite what the first impulse was. However, in this case. the answer is simple. Johnny Hallyday launched the project. We met at the 1998 Cesar ceremony. He was there to present Godard with a Life Achievement Award while I was presenting the Best Director Award, to Luc Besson as it turned out. In the wings. Johnny laid his hand on my shoulder, told me that he loved my films and that he would like us to have dinner together after the ceremony. I thought that he was going to forget but then someone came over to the table where I was eating with my friends, "Mr Hallyday is waiting for you at his table." During the course of the evening, he told me, "Someday, I'd like to be filmed by you." Those were his exact words and I was touched. lt was an almost feminine desire. I didn't set to work on the project right away; my ideas need to linger in a cor-ner of my mind for a while before blooming. Then, little by little, images began to form.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Patrice Leconte

Written by: Claude Klotz

Produced by: Philippe Carcassonne

Cinematography: Jean-Marie Drejou

Editing: Joëlle Hache

Production Design: Ivan Maussion

Original Score: Pascal Estève

Cast: Jean Rochefort (Manesquier), Johnny Hallyday (Milan), Isabelle Petit-Jacques (Viviane), Edith Scob (Manesquier's sister)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 2003
  • People's Choice Award 2003
  • Feature Film Selection 2003