The D Train
dir-scr Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul
prd Mike White, David Bernad, Jack Black, Priyanka Mattoo, Ben Latham-Jones, Barnaby Thompson
with Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike White, Russell Posner, Kyle Bornheimer, Henry Zebrowski, Corrina Lyons, Han Soto, Danielle Greenup, Dermot Mulroney
release US 8.May.15, UK 18.Sep.15
15/US Ealing 1h41
The D Train
More than bromance: Black and Marsden

hahn tambor white
edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The D Train A provocative drama in the guise of an adult comedy, this film takes some rather bold risks in its humorous depiction of how people reinvent themselves. The script dares to cross a line to create a properly pointed comedy that grapples with real issues of identity and sexuality. And it has a fabulous 1990s mixtape soundtrack.

The self-appointed head of his high school class' 20-year reunion, Dan (Black) is seeking the affirmation that's eluded him. He may have a sharp wife (Hahn) and smart teen son (Posner), but he has always felt invisible. So when he spots classmate Oliver (Marsden) in a TV advert, he lies to his boss (Tambor) about having business in Los Angeles, where he tries to convince Oliver to attend the reunion. But Dan goes into unexpected territory with Oliver. So then when Oliver does turn up, Dan doesn't want to face the truth.

Filmmakers Mogel and Paul refuse to take the easy way through this story, pushing the characters into some surprisingly honest corners. Of course everything has to come crashing down around Dan. The darkly comical tone has a brittle edge and realistic characters who are so layered that they're not always very sympathetic. Dan is almost never likeable, alienating his wife and son, who needs him at this moment because his girlfriend (Greenup) is pressuring him to have sex.

Black does his usual awkward chatterbox routine as Dan, a born follower who blags himself through every situation. As the character deepens, Black comes up with the goods. Opposite him, Marsden is razor-sharp as a user who hides behind his cool-guy image. Intriguingly, they're a perfect couple: two lost souls who deserve each other. Dan is needy, troubled by his feelings; Oliver feels nothing. Both are brave, unflinching performances. And Hahn is a superbly complex long-suffering wife.

As it goes along, the film makes some strikingly pointed comments about artificiality, both in Hollywood's glamorous surfaces and at a school reunion, most notably how it feels to try to impress people you didn't really like the first time around. This is also a story about realising that your dreams weren't realistic and that it might not be a bad thing to unravel your life by opening a door you thought was locked forever. But most of all, it reminds us that doing stupid, inexplicable things is part of being human.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 19.Aug.15

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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall