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Review: Experimental drama ‘Train Station’ can’t bear the weight of dozens of directors

Francois Coetzee in the film "Train Station."
(Indie Rights)

Intriguing in concept but problematic in execution, the experimental “Train Station,” brings together no less than 40 filmmakers from 25 countries to visually weigh in on the venerable theme of fate versus choice.

In order to accommodate all those participants, the film, about a late train that results in the unlocking of a Pandora’s box full of increasingly oddball possibilities, necessitates the constant swapping out of character ethnicities and even genders, often in the middle of a scene.

While similarly serving up a cornucopia of contrasting tones and approaches — from the pedestrian to the poetic— as well as varying degrees of skill on both sides of the camera, the conceit also comes with a trade-off.

Conceived and executed by CollabFeature, an international collective co-founded by Detroit-based directors Marty Shea and Ian Bonner, the sprawling co-production serves as a viable example of modern-day, Internet-driven collaboration.

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Although the end product is a natural for film schools and festivals, after a while all those constantly shifting styles and mounting what-ifs involving those nonlinear paths not taken yield diminishing returns in the absence of a more cohesive whole.

By the time “Train Station” and all its fantasy scenarios ultimately come to a stop, the lead character (played by 43 actors) isn’t the only one to experience the disappointment of a missed connection.

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‘Train Station’

In English and various languages with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood

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