Retired literature teacher, known only as The Professor (Donald Suhtherland), spends his days with a set routine in a house that is decorated to make it overly obvious that he is an educated man with a love for the arts and finer things in life. Having lived a cautious life and now in his silver years, he longs for excitement and some form of rebellion.
While at the pharmacy a mysterious man, known only as The Man (Larry Mullen Jr.), enters demanding pills for his migraine, the very pills that The Professor is picking up. Without question, The Professor offers The Man some of his pills, for which he will pay. The Man takes them and leaves. The Professor is very taken by this stranger, the kind he read about in books, no name, no affiliation and not very talkative. It is apparent and very obvious that this stranger is here to rob the bank.
The Professor invites The Man to live with him for the remainder of his stay. For the most part, The Professor rambles on, thrilled by the company of The Man and expressing his regret of living a reserved gentleman’s life. The Man starts to enjoy the luxuries that The Professor deems mundane and it is clear that the one longs for the others life. The unlikely friendship is formed around quotes of literature, tobacco, liquor and good food in the piano room.
Knowing that The Man is there to rob the bank, one waits a very long time for the action to start, but the climax is rushed over and not very exciting. The most distracting factor is the music. Yes, in stage and film specific music is often assigned to a character. The audience links it to the character, knowing he/she is present or will be approaching soon. But in this film the same music is used over and over, for every situation, and it becomes distracting. Where music is used to aid the atmosphere of tense scenes, here it becomes like that persistent tone you hear while being put on hold when phoning customer service. This is unfortunate, because the score isn’t bad. It is just over used.
This English remake of the 2002 French original, L’homme du train, was filmed all across Orangeville and Dundas, Canada. Because of Mullen’s famous profile as U2 drummer, the 17 day filming process was kept very low key. On acting for film, Mullen admitted its vastly different to performing on stage, “It’s a lot more personal… when you actually find yourself on a set, it was essentially very scary, particularly if you’re self-conscious. But the real surprise was that it was a liberating experience.”
Sutherland and Mullen succeed in delivering a natural and convincing chemistry on screen. Although mostly reserved in their roles, the actors say they had lots of laughs behind the scenes. So in truth, the actors like the characters formed a unlikely friendship, the outcome at least far more positive than that of their characters.
In truth, this script would work much better on stage. The real focus is on the devolving relationship and that is no more than satisfactory.