Train Of Life

"Weak"

Train Of Life Review


Here comes another attempt to view the horrors of the Holocaust through a mix of comedy and poignancy, and brother, they just keep getting worse.

"Train of Life" is a grim but hopeful fairy tale set in a so-quaint-it-must-be-staged Eastern European village trapped in the path of the encroaching Nazi army.

Having heard horrible rumors about doomed trains to death camps, the town's cloistered Jewish community decides to make a run for it before the Germans come calling, and develop an elaborate plan to escape to Russia in a dilapidated train they've made over to look like a concentration camp transport.

By taking a fairy tale tack, French-Romanian writer-director Radu Mihaileanu absolves himself of patching up a plague of gaping plot holes regarding the sketchy details of such a plan -- which includes some members of the community reluctantly dressing up in makeshift Nazi costumes in case they're stopped while traversing occupied areas.

The film focuses instead on broad, traditional (read: shopworn) comedy and heavy-handed irony, which builds as the villagers playing German soldiers begin to usurp authority, leading to a revolt amongst the villagers playing deportees. One of the movie's chief foibles is that this clash is far more of a real threat to the band of escapees than the bumbling real Nazis they encounter from time to time.

The concept of using humor as an approach to keep stories of this darkest moment in modern human history fresh in the world's mind is not a bad idea, but it has yet to be done well, and I think it's time to give up.

Each of the three films in this genre has walked the tightrope of taste with amazing dexterity, but "Life Is Beautiful" was simplistic and wildly over-rated, "Jakob the Liar" was pretentious and dull, and "Train of Life" is far too dependent on antiquated stock characters (a village idiot?!?) and elementary, low-brow farce.

The movie's heart is in the right place. It celebrates Jewish tradition and has whimsical fun with its stereotypes and a silly subplot about a communist uprising in the boxcars. But its make-you-laugh, make-you-cry, sappy, spoon-fed sentiment has little substance. It feels like a non-confrontational version of its already meek predecessors.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 16th September 1998

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Canal Plus, Centre National de la Cinématographie

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Shlomo, as Mordechai, as Rabbi, as Esther, as Yossi, as Schmecht, Bruno Abraham-Kremer as Yankele, Marie-José Nat as Sura, as Manzatou

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.