Monday, August 6, 2012

Subway (1985)

Seen: On dvd on our projector set-up, borrowed from our friend Sam.

Luc Besson can be uneven, surely, but his output is so large it's to be expected, and generally if I see his name attached to something I'm interested. I was pretty excited to hear about one of his earliest features, Subway, which sees the filmmaker sticking to his gritty urban French roots. The film focuses on Fred (Christophe Lambert), a spiky-haired safe-cracker who flees to the labyrinthine caverns of the Paris subway when a group of armed men chase him down for robbing wealthy trophy wife Héléna (Isabelle Adjani). He meets various eccentric denizens of the underground and fights to outwit the transit police, eventually forming a band with different musicians he meets down there. It's a weird time.

I totally didn't expect what this movie threw at me, but it was so great it didn't really matter. It's rife with bizarre characters and silly subplots, and no one has recognizable motivations, and everything is awesome. There are multiple musical sequences, exciting chase scenes, super cool locations, and general fun times. I loved the appearance from Jean Reno as a taciturn drummer, and Jean-Hugues Anglade as a weasely roller-skating thief. Christophe Lambert's character is kind of an idiot with anger issues, but I liked his haircut. And Isabelle Adjani is just like... super pretty. Damn. And she hates rich people despite appearances. The real star of the movie is the setting, though, and I totally want to move into the Paris subway. It's the best place.

Subway is a strange, fun film but it does drag as the story meanders around as much as its characters, and by the final scene it's turned into this melodramatic romance that also has rock music? But it starts out as a chase-thriller with comedic elements. It's all over the place. I liked the blend of genres and unpredictable plot, but the frequent switches in tone and focus made it an uneven film on the whole. But that's a pretty minor criticism considering how much I enjoyed it overall! Thanks, Luc Besson!


Pair This Movie With: Another wacky late-night-in-the-city movie, I think, like Desperately Seeking Susan or After Hours.


  1. Wow. I haven't seen this movie in, like, decades. Thanks for reminding me of it. I'll have to rewatch it next year.

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