This, apparently, dated journey on a grubby trans European train will contrast starkly with its modern equivalent. Unless of course you’re a British rail commuter when it will seem bang up to date.
Peter, an arrogant ex public schoolboy, is travelling to a Linz book fair when he meets an American girl and hopes his luck is in. However, things are complicated by the arrival in the same compartment of Frau Messener, an elderly, once upper class, Austrian who matches Peters arrogance and surpasses it with her spoilt demands.
Dame Peggy Ashcroft, whose eyes are far to young for her ageing frame, wonderfully portrays the matriarch of a fallen race. The part of Peter, played by Michael Kitchen, seems to have been written for him. Anyone who travelled in Europe in the 70’s, encountering armed border guards who seem to be in training for the next Reich, will appreciate the undertones of paranoia.
Gritty, atmospheric and delivering a sense of frustration right to the fractured end when we glimpse the potential of empathy between Peter and Frau Messener, but tantalisingly never quite make it. Not everyone’s cup of tea, hence four stars, but never the less a classic Poliakoff.