Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
Watch On
  1. 100
    Man on the Train may be a modest film, but it offers privileged glimpses of transcendence.
  2. 63
    There's the air of sadness and worry all over this movie, and sometimes it's heavy. But it's air all the same.
  3. Their calm assurance -- Hallyday as a grizzled icon, Rochefort as a melancholy mensch -- is a pleasure to behold.
  4. 100
    Leconte brings his film to transcendent closure without relying on stale plot devices or the clanking of the plot. He resorts to a kind of poetry. After the film is over, you want to sigh with joy, that in this rude world such civilization is still possible.
  5. The movie -- simple, pure and powerful -- makes us feel the intensity of both life in transit and life lived, if only for a moment, in another's skin.
  6. Heartfelt performances make up for some stodgy dialogue and corny moments, though. And it's nice to know some filmmakers still have a foot firmly planted in old-fashioned humanistic storytelling.
  7. Both actors are marvelous, and the film, low-key but heartfelt, is a gem.
  8. The premise, the structure, and the men-at-twilight conversation in Patrice Leconte's ingratiating drama feel cloyingly predetermined at times, but the sight of Hallyday and Rochefort luxuriating in their contrasting manly personas is a kick.
  9. Reviewed by: Robert Learner
    For those who find that most “life-affirming’ films leave them nauseous and sometimes angry, Man on the Train is a miracle of genuine uplift working with two characters probably fated to die.
  10. 80
    Far from a spontaneous movie -- the passage of this relationship is mapped from the get-go -- but it is warm and deep, and its visual style bespeaks a new maturity in Leconte.
  11. As a filmmaker, he (Leconte) doesn't have anything profound to say but does say his something with craft, visual flair and professionalism. Depending on your mood, that can be either too little or just enough.
  12. 75
    By film's end, Leconte has made you believe these disparate men inhabit the same soul: The chasm between them is a matter of paths not taken.
  13. One of the small pleasures of the movie is likely to escape American audiences. The bank robber is played by Johnny Hallyday, a pop icon of great magnitude in France, and the old man is played by Jean Rochefort, an acting staple of that country's cinema. The mere juxtaposition of these two personalities forms a comic set of expectations.
  14. As in many a French movie, especially crime movie, the philosophe and the crook turn out to be each other’s mirror image.
  15. 75
    A thinking man's buddy movie.
  16. In the end, what the movie is about: time and life, and what we do with them, and what we regret that we didn't do.
  17. 91
    In an unassuming way, the film sizzles -- a perfect embodiment, as it happens, of the marriage of the bad man and the man of letters.
  18. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    The true sensory delight is when the two men share screen time, and the palette is bombarded with their contrasting hues, the score (by Pascal Esteve) even meticulously interlacing their two musical personalities.
  19. 75
    The film doesn't have much of a narrative, and the ending is a little too mystical, but there's still plenty here to engage the attention of all but the most restless of movie-goers.
  20. 80
    Watching Man on the Train is like coming across one of those threadbare Persian rugs you see on public tours of private homes. Its elegance is more comfortable than cold, and it carries its worn, battered mien proudly.
  21. Taps into the same emotional current that sustains the entire "buddy picture" genre, but does so with feeling and unmistakable insight.
  22. This moody, progressively enthralling little French psychodrama is very much it's own thing: a boldly conceived, impeccably crafted and wonderfully enigmatic two-character study that turns out to be a most powerful showcase for its two stars.
  23. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    A slender thing, with a perversely undernourished color scheme: grainy blue exteriors and old-time sepia interiors. The fullness comes from the faces of its two protagonists.
  24. The essence of the film is that French gambit which Leconte has called "the magic of the unlikely encounter.
  25. 80
    Mr. Leconte gives this meeting of opposites in Claude Klotz's script a lovely, sportive élan, instead of making it register as lumpy, obvious polemics.
  26. 70
    Leconte lacks the austerity to complete a film in which nothing much occurs. And so, with some reluctance, we are bustled toward a climax. [12 May 2003, p. 82]
  27. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    An elegantly polished little film.
  28. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The excellently translated subtitles retain the wit and flavor of the brisk, at times even hardboiled, dialogue.
  29. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    The comedy-drama hinges on the captivating dynamic between the two men, combining gentle humor and charm with a melancholy undercurrent of yearning.
  30. Goes from good to great in 90 minutes, and then it's over, except that it's really not, because this small masterwork grows even deeper and more affecting as it takes up permanent residence in your memory.
  31. Piquant, thoroughly engaging character drama.
  32. What a good movie. Sometimes you get tired of 'splaining and you just want to say: Hey, this one's really very good. That's all, folks. It's a damn good movie.

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