Jean Renoir directs Jean Gabin, Simone Simon and Fernand Ledoux in this thriller where train station workers enter a web of jealousy and murder.
Gabin and Simon exude star power. The noir-ish plot feels more enamoured with characters behaving contrarily to their best interests or true natures. This makes the film a little too unpredictable as either drama or romance. The love affair based around alibis never convinces, while Gabin’s dark shifts feel like a device not fully established. Maybe they are given more room to convince in the book?Hard to blame Emile Zola for a genre movie’s weaknesses but there we have it. The best moments depict working life on the steam train and the micro-community who work around it. To see the pneumatic ins-and-out captured with a documentarian’s eye is pretty cool. To see the recent past hurtling around like the future is a strange sensation.
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