Grand Central (2013) Poster


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A mysterious and passionate film
FrenchEddieFelson12 August 2019
The film describes the professional and extra-professional daily life of a band of John Doe providing maintenance within a nuclear power plant. They live in a few mobil-homes of a camping site. They are collectively lost, sometimes philosophers sometimes disillusioned. They survive as rebels without a real illusion about their future.

I recently saw this movie on Netlix that I chose based on the high-quality cast: Tahar Rahim, Denis Ménochet and Olivier Gourmet. With also Johan Libéreau, Léa Seydoux and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart. The director Rebecca Zlotowski seems to hesitate between the social satire and the hanky-panky, as if she were herself as lost as the characters of her own film.

As a synthesis: excellent acting in a film that seems unfinished. 5/6 of 10
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Interesting but...
searchanddestroy-128 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A really worth seeing little french drama, who speaks - for the first time, as far as I know - about workers in the civil nuclear industry. And not the elite engineers, no, the simple and under paid workers, who have to struggle every day about their safety against all the deadly danger they are all exposed to. The characters study is very well done, in a very accurate way. The story besides is not the most important thing if it all. The usual love story: the gal to be married, her husband and the lover. Nothing new here, but the surrounding is worth. The film remains although a little confusing,and the end may let you a strange feeling. I have not found yet what exactly worried me about it...

Not a usual film.
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Passionate lovers suffer nuclear poison.
maurice_yacowar9 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In Grand Central director Rebecca Zlotowski examines the dangers of unharnessed power, tracing a spectrum from the simplest to the most horrifying.

Man can subdue animal power easily enough — when it's the mechanical bull riding contest in the bar. So too the old jalopy, the horsepower convertible, and the outlaw energies of young men, like Gary (Tahar Rahim) and his new friend, the pickpocket, who buy the vehicle from gypsies, another emblem of the unharnessed life. The trouble begins when the dangerous forces are sexual passion on the human scale and nuclear power on the societal.

When Gary goes to work in the new Austrian nuclear energy plant, despite all the training, warnings and precautions, he — and others, older and wiser — are destroyed by it. His passionate involvement with Karole (Lea Seydoux), another plant employee, eventually shatters the social peace and causes Gary to take on even more radioactivity. The uncontrolled sexual passion and the inadequately controlled radiation power bring him down.

The pregnant Karole rejects Gary in favour of her sterile so suspicious fiancé Toni (Denis Menochet) out of her fear. From Gary's frightening and destructive passion she shifts to Toni's security.

The Gary and Karole love scenes usually play out in the plush countryside, as an escape from the sterile industrial plant -- an oxymoronic term if there ever was one. However fertile the setting and their sex, however, the lovers' extremity is frightening. That actual plant, incidentally, was completed just before Austria voted to ban nuclear power. Little wonder. For more see
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euroGary18 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
'Grand Central' is a French film starring Tahar Rahim ('A Prophet') as Gary (a splendid French name), a man with a criminal past. It can't have been a very successful criminal career - Gary seems to own one set of clothes only - so it's probably just as well he is looking for honest work, which he finds at a nuclear power station. But accidents involving radiation - not to mention starting an affair with the fiancée (Léa Seydoux - 'Blue is the Warmest Colour') of one of his colleagues - mean things will get worse before they get better.

This film nails its gender equality colours firmly to the mast in the love scenes between Rahim and Seydoux: she has to go full-frontal, while he shows no more than you'd see at a family beach. One would think a film directed by a woman (Rebecca Zlotowski, who also co-wrote) would be a bit more equal (either covering her up, or - preferably - stripping him off!) Apart from that I can't say this film excited any strong emotion in me: I didn't enjoy it, but to say I disliked it would be too strong - it was on the screen, I watched it, and when it had finished I got up and left the cinema. I can't even explain why I feel so indifferent to it: definitely a 'so-so' film.
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Grand Bore
cekadah31 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Angst, passion, and sex all within the shadows of a nuclear power plant.

Here's the plot - Gary and friends show up at a nuclear power plant seeking jobs. Here Gary finds Karole & Karole finds Gary. Gary and friends buy an old car from gypsy's. You never see it again after first drive. Gary and Karole spend a lot of time in the woods banging away. Gary goes to work at power plant, eventually looses his job. Karole decides to marry her boyfriend Toni. Karole wears a hoochie mama wedding dress at ceremony. On wedding night Gary tries to drag Karole away with him. Toni beats the crap out of Gary. Next day Gary decides to leave and starts walking to where - we don't know. Karole (still in her hoochie mama wedding dress) comes running after Gary. She say's "I was scared" and then the nuclear plant alert warning horns start blaring. End of movie!

Thats it.
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Its a shame the geiger counter often remains in the middle for 'Grand Central'
dipesh-parmar9 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Rebecca Zlotowski's French drama 'Grand Central' stars Tahar Rahim as Gary, unemployed and desperate for work. He finds well-paid but dangerous work as a decontaminator of nuclear reactors across France. Gary is based at a plant near Lyon, living on a site with fellow co-workers. They all work, live and play as one.

Spending so much time together, its inevitable that troubles follow. Gary complicates things further, by starting an affair with Karole (Lea Seydoux), the fiancée of a fellow worker who also works at the plant. Not only is his work life hazardous, but so too is his private life. Gary's desire to be close to Karole leads him to take more risks so that he can keep on working, risking his own life in the process.

Gary and Karole's relationship is occasionally more of a backstory to the more interesting drama in the nuclear plant itself. Zlotowski illustrates how ingrained nuclear power is in France, where human contamination is not only inevitable but ongoing for its workers. The human cost is high, mass unemployment means a big queue of people waiting to be exploited, with no real security or prospects. Everyone is affected, so its vital that everyone works together, publicly and privately.

All the actors play their parts well, the leads Rahim and Seydoux don't put a foot wrong but still you care less for Gary and Karole's relationship, and more for the plight of the workers. Its a shame the geiger counter often remains in the middle for 'Grand Central', where certain parts of the film needed to be fleshed out more to provide a more compelling story.
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This love story is too patchy to really fall in love with, but it's not made without a certain flair.
johnnyboyz9 December 2017
"Grand Central" is about people so poor, so hard-up, that when they have their wallets pinched from them aboard trains, the thieves look on in anguish at the fact said wallets are completely devoid of all currency. There is not a sausage – not even a few coins. It is also about men – men who don't have very much, but get by; who are not educated, but do an important job; who are loath to give away what precious few things they already have. Lastly, the film is somewhat of a romance and is a study of the lengths people go for those whom they love.

There is a quite brilliant character drama swimming around in "Grand Central" somewhere, where each and every perfectly timed revelation induces its own tragic result and nuanced spark, but I could not find it. Once you have recalled Ken Loach's 2001 film "The Navigators", which, like "Grand Central", is about working class men just about getting by in their demanding jobs on top of whatever else life throws at them outside of the workplace, it is very difficult to remove it again and "Grand Central" film suffers as a result of this.

The film's lead is Gary (Tahar Rahim), a young Frenchman from Lyon who flits from job to job with very few qualifications but a lot of energy and heaps of enthusiasm to work. He likes bars; beer and pool, and fits into blue-collar society very easily. He has never been in love; struggles for money and maintains a very fragile relationship with his extended family of in-laws and blood relations.

Life has been fairly anonymous for Gary until this latest escapade lands him a work placement at a nuclear power plant in a rural stretch on the fringes of a small town. With one thing leading to another and the elements conspiring against him, he settles down in a small gypsy camp with a family of people – one of whom, Toni (Denis Menochet), he knows through work at said plant : he is Gary's supervisor. Toni's wife is the promiscuous Karol (Léa Seydoux), who is around Gary's age and whose presence eventually complicates things.

Writer/Director Rebecca Zlotowski seems to take her raw cue from John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men". This is most certainly a text about people at the lower end of a capitalist society just about getting by with tough, honest work under burdensome conditions having ambled around the country and suddenly stumbled into employment. The intimacy of the living quarters are quite striking: Californian bunks are swapped for old caravans that do not feel as if they have moved in decades.

It is to Zlotowski's credit that she captures the world of where this film takes place remarkably well: the power station acts as this huge, God-like presence which looms in the background and dominates the skyline. Its warning alarms, sounded weekly for purposes of testing, echo around the hills; fields and riversides, reminding us all of its presence and of its inescapable nature. Its interior is shot intimately and intensely – a space where macho, uncouth blue-collar guys must radically change gears and drop their exterior personas in order to survive in their becoming very calm; intricate and careful in the doing of their job.

Rebecca Zlotowski strikes me, from what I saw in "Grand Central", as somebody able to make a film without necessarily being able to tell a story or really bring characters to life off a written page. She has, without question, an eye for imagery and atmosphere – when the film takes you into the plant for the first time, there is an incredible sense of claustrophobia and danger. You sense real harm could leap at you from nowhere and there is a real fear for the characters' safety.

Otherwise, the film is peppered with individual moments of what are otherwise moments of silence or contemplation which are quite striking: the manner about which the camera loiters in the train carriage during the opening scene, affording the lead a glimpse at the looming nuclear station as he heads into town; the way Gary, with friends we sense he has never had, hares down an isolated county road in a convertible sports car on a day off with two others – techno music blaring out of the stereo.

What is lacking is the material that makes up the film's narrative, which is essentially straight out of a daytime television serial. The relationship at the core of the film, that of Gary's with Karole, and how that might put strain on an existing friendship Gary already has, is derivative and does not move us. We have seen this plot before in something else. We have accidentally read about how it will rock the town; village or suburb of our nations' favourite soap opera within the next few weeks inside cheap television magazines or guides.

While "Grand Central" unquestionably suffers from these things, on top of the fact its characters are, when scrutinised, remarkably one-dimensional, it just about manages to stand up on the strength of its imagery and how its director manages to capture the world around whom it is depicting. Its central theme, that love knows no bounds and tremendous lengths are often gone for those close to another, even if that means death by radiation, is worthy.
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