It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The girl in Andre Techine's "Girl on the Train" is Jeanne, who has never fully engaged in the society she occupies. She roller blades through French suburbs with her iPod blocking out other sounds, as the world glides past unobserved. Was it the job interview with the lawyer Samuel Bleistein that put Jews into her mind? One doubts she had given them, or anything else, much thought.
Jeanne (Emilie Dequenne) is sent to Bleistein by her mother Louise (Catherine Deneuve). He was once in love with her. One of the nation's most powerful lawyers, he makes time to see the girl because of old memories. His secretary pages through her resume and observes there isn't much there. Nor does the interview itself go well. Jeanne doesn't know much, hasn't done much, doesn't even realize how little she's done or what there is to be known. She lives in a cocoon of electronic distraction.
She doesn't care. She's having a romance with a young athlete, a wrestler, tattooed and a little strange. They break up. Now she's jobless, alone, and with her mother on her case -- Louise, who provides home care for toddlers, works in the garden, and is gentle enough with her -- but anything that interrupts Jeanne's reverie is annoying.
For no particular reason, perhaps hoping to win Bleistein's sympathy, perhaps not, perhaps she doesn't know, she makes up a story of being assaulted on a train by North Africans who taunted her as a Jew, beat her, and carved a swastika on her stomach. She isn't Jewish, not that it's a point. The case becomes a national scandal. The French president can't get on the phone fast enough to express his sympathy and solidarity.