Archive for August, 2011

Phantom Self at the Movies – Man on the Train

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

If you’re in the mood for an intelligent movie about personal identity, I recommend Patrice LeComte’s Man on the Train (­L’Homme du Train, 2002).  It’s the story of a minor gangster, Milan, and a nearly-retired poetry teacher, Manesquier, who come together by chance. As they learn about each other, they are attracted to one another’s lives.  Manesquier, bored with his quiet existence of jigsaw puzzles and tutoring in the house he grew up in, envies Milan’s freedom, mobility, and toughness. Milan, who looks as if he’s been living rough for too long, appreciates the civilized comforts of Manesquier’s home, and is impressed by the generosity and trust of the older man, who doesn’t lock his doors. Milan recalls two lines of a poem which Manesquier is able to finish for him—an ability which the poetry teacher takes for granted and values little, but which the hoodlum feels painfully lacking in himself. (more…)