The Vincent

  August 4, 1999                                                        

In the dense, intriguing French drama called Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train, Vincent Perez - the cutie from Indochine and Queen Margot - plays a droll transsexual named Viviane who floats around like a hardened Tinker Bell with a wry smile and a marshmallow wand. Vivacious Viv emits dry utterances like, "Don't call me Frederic. There's no more Frederic. Didn't Dominique tell you?" and "No more body hair or erections. Heaven!" (I'll let you discover Viv's line about "eating out ass"—as opposed to eating outside—for yourself.)

At a promo lunch for the film, director Patrice Chéreau told me that Perez specifically asked to take on that hormonal role. "One day we were drunk in Madrid," Chéreau related, "and Vincent said he'd love to play a woman. We decided to make his character a female who arrives at the cemetery [for the central character's burial] and helps bring people together. The problem was to not have a drag queen or a transvestite, but a real transsexual person, well-researched." And that's what they got - so much so that her penis is briefly seen in a shower scene. ("Viviane is before the operation," Chéreau told me, when asked.)

Was the film popular in France? "Popular is not the word," the director said, cringing. "It's been received well as an art film, but there are too many gay people in it to be that popular." Still, if Hollywood somehow smells le cash cow and decides to remake Train with Ted Danson, will he sell the rights? "They will never ask," he said, "so I'm not worried."

[Written by Michael Musto]

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