The Girl On The Train


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Girl On The Train
"Emily Blunt's performance gives the film a centre and a purpose."

Movies based on best selling novels have expectation problems. Either they remain loyal to the letter, or make changes to suit cinematic time frames, or directorial whims. Whichever, there are going to be complaints.

The Girl In The Film has moved from expensive new build English suburbia where the houses are identical to New York State where they are bigger and don't look as if they come from the same architectural catalogue. The difference means that the characters are free from the British obsession with class, which is not entirely true because only Rachel (Emily Blunt), who lives in another town now, is examined in any depth.

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The film begins, like the book, by using first person narratives of the three female protagonists in separate chapters. This is abandoned after the introductory flurry in favour of Rachel's story, which means that Megan (Haley Bennett) who is married to Scott (Luke Evans) and lives in Rachel's old house, and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) who is married to Tom (Justin Theroux), Rachel's ex, and has a child, are secondary in every way. No time is given to their development.

This is a whodunit, complicated with girl stuff, such as who lives with whom and where, sex, depression, babies and status. The elephant in the room is booze. Rachel is an alcoholic.

She wakes up alive, not dead, feeling like death, as per - is it morning? is it day? is it now? is it then? - covered in blood. Well, not covered, not completely, wound on head, on face, somewhere under the hair, panic, did I do something? Did I do something bad?

It's all about that night, that evening. She remembers leaving the train at her old stop, staggering away from the station down a dirty tunnel. She was accosted, she was attacked, she thinks, or did she attack someone else? Why? Who? The effort of not knowing is intolerable, especially when Megan's disappearance becomes news and seems to coincide with her "incident." The police are involved, want an interview.

Tom left Rachel for Anna when Anna became pregnant. Rachel hit the bottle and left. She left her job in the city as well, or rather was "let go". Still she takes the train to work every day even though there is no work and the train passes their houses where she lived and where the others still live and conveniently stops so that she can do a Rear Window on them.

Blunt's performance gives the film a centre and a purpose. The others can do little with their roles. There isn't enough meat on the bone. Even Allison Janney, as the detective, seems wasted. The snap flashbacks confuse and cheat. When you are dealing with memory loss and memory found it is possible to suggest anything. Being smashed is like flying blind through smog. Objects appear and disappear. Truth flatlines.

The mystery maketh the woman and the woman matters. Enough.

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2016
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The Girl On The Train packshot
A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.
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Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson, based on the novel by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramírez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Darren Goldstein, Lisa Kudrow, Cleta Elaine Ellington, Lana Young, Rachel Christopher, Fernando Medina, Gregory Morley

Year: 2016

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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