Coming off of her success in the controversial film Blue is the Warmest Color comes Léa Seydoux’s second French drama, Grand Central. Not one to shy away from a nude scene (or two), Seydoux bares all as Karole, the love interest of Gary Manda, played by Tahar Rahim. Gary is recruited to work in a power plant where the pay is low and the conditions are toxic, but for this desperate Frenchman, he’ll take any job he can get. Immediately, he meets Karole, another factory worker, and they quickly express their mutual interest in each other. The catch: Karole is engaged to Toni (Denis Ménochet), a powerful man who also works at the factory. Despite the cat and mouse storyline appeal, this melodrama ultimately falls flat.
Whether it’s laying naked in the grass or rowing a boat at midnight, Zlotowski steeps her characters in realism with a touch of whimsicality.
Grand Central has all of the characteristics that make up a good film, although its pace and ending, or lack thereof, affected my overall feelings towards it. The most interesting part about the film is director Rebecca Zlotowski’s attention to color and the environment; whether it’s laying naked in the grass or rowing a boat at midnight, Zlotowski steeps her characters in realism with a touch of whimsicality.
Even with top-notch cinematography, Grand Central relies heavily on its actors to engage the audience. Cannes darling and fashion muse Léa Seydoux lives up to her potential as Karole, a confused girl at a crossroads between thinking with her head vs her heart, however, her character isn’t given much depth and makes it difficult to empathize with. The film ends on the phrase “I was scared,” and it seems as if Zlotowski, too, was scared to fully commit to her characters. Grand Central plays too soft for a film with seemingly so much at stake; visually, the film is stunning, but it’s missing the depth necessary for a timeless dramatic film.