WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
Looks like I’m back reviewing another movie based off a book I didn’t read…the joy. There was a lot of hype put into The Girl on the Train when the film was announced. The book, under the same title, was released in 2014 and was considered such a hit that Dreamworks acquired the film rights and quickly went into production. I didn’t read the book, so I have no source material to compare this to. However, the film has many known actors and it has an interesting story if you are into dark thrillers. I must warn you, this film is not for everyone. The tone is very dark and somewhat depressing. If you are one of those moviegoers looking for a happy film, this isn’t it.
The film begins with a woman named Rachel (Emily Blunt). Rachel is a down on her luck alcoholic. She spends her entire day taking a train to New York City and drinking her life away. She has created a fantasy life about a woman who she sees riding on the train every day; this girl is named Megan (Haley Bennett). Rachel imagines Megan as a happily married woman who is deeply in love, living the dream life…in reality, Megan is a fucking train wreck. Megan is a damaged girl who is having an affair with her therapist behind the back of her husband (not exactly the happy fairytale that Rachel assumed). One night Rachel decides to drunkenly confront Megan under a bridge and blacks out. The next morning she wakes up covered in blood as Megan goes missing and she could have been the last person to see her alive.
The theme is very dark and showcases many troubling life issues. Rachel’s alcoholism is a major arch in the film. Rachel suffers from deep depression due to her past. As the movie progresses, you learn more about how she ended up in her current situation. Her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) left her after she was unable to get pregnant for another woman named Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) who he had a child with. Rachel proceeds to allow her drinking problem to get the best of her. She lost her job due to her drinking a year earlier and didn’t tell her landlord, so her day consists of sitting on a train, creeping on a random girl and getting completely plastered…feel good story eh? The movie jumps around between different points of view from multiple characters as every scene becomes a new piece of evidence in this ‘Whodunit’ story.
Megan, also watches the baby of Anna and Tom, creating a whole new meaning to a small world. Megan constantly runs away from the idea of having another baby because years earlier her child accidentally drowned in the bathtub and she secretly blames herself. Emotionally she is broken and allows herself to be used as a sex object by the men in her life. As Rachel works her way into the lives of the strangers that she stalks, she realizes the number of suspects in the disappearance of Megan is large and personal to her. You learn for two women who never met each other before, their lives are on many similar paths. Not to mention their lives are plagued by the same people.
The narrative in The Girl on the Train is fighting your inner demons; however, this leads to one of the biggest problems. There aren’t any likable characters in the movie. Sure, there are people you pity but that’s about it. With so much gray area, it is difficult to emotionally invest in someone especially knowing that one of them guilty of murder. When you finally start to figure out what is really going on, the film turns from murder mystery to melodrama in an instant. The big twist comes when we discover that Megan’s body is found and that she was pregnant with a child fathered by a third man, that third man being Tom. Turns out Tom had been lying to Rachel the whole time about her drunken encounters. Everything that he blamed her for, Tom had been the real culprit the whole time. While Rachel confronts Tom, Tom forces her to drink to no one will believe her and proceeds to attack her. Rachel takes a last stand and kills Tom with a cork opener, finally putting an end to the darkest chapter in her life. The mystery becomes pretty predictable at this point and begins to hamper the goodwill the movie had built up to that point.
The best way I can describe The Girl on the Train is a great set up but poor execution. It is an interesting idea that turns into a soap opera by the end. Emily Blunt’s performance pretty much carries the film. Other characters simply aren’t as investing or they don’t get the screen time to stand out. The story is good enough to keep the interests of the audience and they do a good job of keeping the audience guessing until the end where the picture becomes clearer. There will be a lot of comparisons to Gone Girl but The Girl on the Train isn’t as good of a story as that movie was. The Girl on the Train is an entertaining ride but come to a disappointing final stop.
OFFICIAL RATINGs: ***
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