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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.