Director Taylor brings a sense of icy removal to the visual style, evoking fall in Westchester County, and the silos of isolation and belief in which these three women exist. Plot changes occur only for the sake of brevity.
Ok Commuter: Emily Blunt stars in The Girl on the Train. She’s a witness to the mystery that unfolds, even as her own memory fails her.
Every day, Rachel gets a brief view of their lives as she chugs vodka out of a water bottle and sketches their faces in a notebook, concocting elaborate backstories.
This is largely because the screenplay has smoothed down the rougher complexities of the book (which, to be fair, was always going to be a tough commodity to transfer to the screen). This may be one of them. The twist is obvious and aggressively boring, which is not what you want from your psychological thrillers.
Living vicariously and voyeurism provide an interesting hook, and the alcoholism aspect adds to the suspicions in an authentic way.
But “The Girl on the Train” is the new kid on the block, so lets give it, the appropriate attention forthwith. Hawkins’ novel is set in London and environs.
Tate Taylor, director of the Oscar-winning civil rights drama The Help, was duly hired to shunt the book’s setting from London to NY for this glossy film adaptation.
Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) has self-imploded following an acrimonious divorce from her cheating husband, Tom (Justin Theroux).
Tom has since remarried and has a child with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), something that upsets Rachel to the point that she once showed up at her old home, walked into the place and took the baby into her arms.
Of course, some of this could be the overactive imagination of a very lonely woman who’s really diverting her own attention away from the house two doors down.
Rachel mostly spies on the restless beauty Megan (Haley Bennett) and her studly hubby Scott (Luke Evans), who are fond of getting down and dirty in front of open windows just steps from the train tracks.
Did Rachel do something to Megan during a drunken blackout on the night Megan disappeared? Then believing anything you see is fraught with danger. Someone will die. A psychiatrist (Edgar Ramirez) is front and centre; so is a police detective (Allison Janney). There’s also the possibility that the source material just wasn’t inherently fit for a movie adaptation.
“You’re only as a good as the parts that you’re given”, she said, “and you’re only as versatile as the parts that you’re given”.
But not disturbing in the usual horror/slasher/thriller context.
In the end, “The Girl on the Train” presents us with a silly, shallow story about three despicable women: an inebriated doormat, a spineless trophy wife and a manipulative sexpot. The characters who are depicted as enjoying sex in “The Girl on the Train” are ultimately all punished in some way. The audience is given a chance to understand the female characters – even though there is an argument to be made that these vulnerable women are taken advantage of in the film, and painted badly – but Rachel is the woman around whom the story revolves. I’m glad my first experience with Ferguson was her incredible turn in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” because she’s an absolute blank slate here.
Emily Blunt is an extremely versatile actress who’s done musicals (Into the Woods), comedy (The Devil Wears Prada), sci-fi (Edge of Tomorrow, Looper), family flicks (The Muppets), fairy-tale fantasy (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and action (Sicaro).