A woman named Elise (Jane Birkin) who lives by the train tracks with her pet bird, an irresponsible youth in a sports car, and a series of correspondences with an unseen train engineer are the backdrop of Switzerland’s La Femme et le TGV.
The film strikes a great tone of a lighthearted isolation. Light humor frames a routine of tedium for Elise, who works alone in a local bakery and strives for companionship of some kind.
A series of motifs carry this tone forward. Dancing. Automobiles. Food. Images of a rustic lifestyle. They create a mildly absurd world of ageless carefree living.
Narrative construction, too, helps the film immensely. Plot points and reveals are situated in the perfect pockets for turning points. With this and Birkin’s wonderful performance, La Femme deftly crafts this tale of loneliness briefly alleviated.
La Femme et le TGV is sweet, classically simple, and full of moments of quiet comedy. It may be a bit too classical in its pursuit of efficient storytelling, it being somehow lost in a space between times as its protagonist is. We lose something tangible in the time that is taken up in repetition.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)