The Girl on the Train
Directed by Tate Taylor
Written by Erin Cressida Wilson. Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins
Starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans
Review by Jordan (for Eddie’s take click HERE)
The Girl on the Train was a highly anticipated success waiting to happen; an undiluted and intriguing foray into betrayal and emotional abuse centred around the lives of three deeply flawed women as they appear headed by their self-destructive tendencies. That was the promise, but unfortunately not the result.
Rachel (Blunt) is an alcoholic who daily catches a train into New York for a job she lost 12 months ago, and with bloodshot eyes and dark makeup feels shame as she pines for the life lost with her ex-husband Tom (Theroux), who has now married and had a child with his former lover Anna (Ferguson). On her train commutes, Rachel observes a perfect couple; beautiful and in love as they stand on the porch of their grand home they have created together. She fills her mind with fictitious accounts of the life they share, and notices only a happiness that we will never again achieve. That is until she notices the woman with another man, and with anger running through her veins at such a disregard of her circumstance, on the brink of another blackout she happens upon her at a tunnel near the station. Rachel then wakes up in her bed, covered in blood and with memory loss clouding her regret, before the worst is confirmed and the girl from the porch, identified as Megan (Bennett), is missing.
Finding a malformed sense of purpose, Rachel is intent on uncovering the truth to her disappearance, to both clear the name of her husband Scott (Evans) and perhaps reveal if she herself is capable of murder.
This plot as told in Paula Hawkins book is intriguing and non-linear, revealing its darkest secrets strategically and carefully disguising the truth in a sea of red-herrings and character shortcomings. Tate Taylor’s adaptation removes the exciting secrecy and instead employs melodrama, focussing on how the flaws and paranoias of each woman interconnect and how human interaction, most notably the discerning of lust and love, can lead to obsession and emotional disconnect. These are interesting concepts, but ultimately the film holds no power, and shocking events happen without impact or effect because the story itself has been revealed in a way that immunes itself to dramatic tonal shifts.
Rachel is the superior character, surrounded by those either underwritten or misinterpreted when translated to screen, and in a challenging performance Emily Blunt brings both the desperation and hardness necessary for the role to be a success. Largely falling short though is the world crafted around her, which promises at every deceptive turn to delve deep beneath the white picket fence, but rather exists in the shallow ground.