The Girl on the Train
By: John Delia
Captivating and suspenseful the movie The Girl on the Train takes you into the mind of a witness to murder. The intriguing film hooks you from the beginning, tantalizes with possible suspects and then leads you down a path to a deadly finale. Taken from a bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins, the movie gets a Hollywood makeover true to the book. Be forewarned the story gets a little contrived, but it doesn’t ruin the overall melodramatic experience.
A divorced woman, Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) has turned to booze for relief from her happy marriage dreams that were shattered. Every day she rides the train that passes by her former house now occupied by her ex-husband Tom Watson (Justin Theroux) and his young new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Dreaming of a life that could have been she spots a couple, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans), on the veranda of a house a few doors down from ex-husband.
Day after day, Rachel goes through the pain of what she had and what she wanted with glances at the homes by the tracks of the train. When she sees a strange man kissing Megan on her balcony and days later she goes missing, foul play is suspected. Director Tate Taylor (The Help) makes his interpretation of the book very suspenseful with lengthy shots of Rachel brooding over her past while sitting next to the train window and at a bar where she drinks heavily. He exposes the other main characters by showing their relationship between each other and the joy and hurt laced within the movie.
The cinematography isn’t the only captivator as the musical score adds to the uncertainty and depressing theme that plays out on the screen. As each chapter evolves, the mood changes digging deeper into the characters suspected of foul play. Much like the film Gone Girl where the accused has to defend himself from suspicion, here the music turns very dark and dread filled as they search for clues to finding Megan.
The acting by the whole cast is good, depicting their characters on point with the book and script. Emily Blunt turns in a very disturbing performance as Rachel who has been caught up in a downward spiral since her divorce. Constantly imbibing vodka or other alcoholic drinks, she is unable to control her feelings to the point of invading her former husband’s privacy. Blunt even pushes the envelope making her character repressive at times and even scary putting herself under suspicion involving the missing Megan.
Contributing to the somber tone, Luke Evans as the despondent husband of Megan shows Scott going off the deep end. He regains his composure when Rachel comes to him with her suspicions, but wavers with doubts about the bizarre woman. Keeping the momentum moving along, Justin Theroux as the ex-husband to Rachel and obsessive husband to his wife Anna shows his vindictiveness to both. His performance adds to the uncertainty of this “who done it” creating doubt about other characters in the story.
The Girl on the Train has been rated R by the MPAA for violence, sexual content, language and nudity. There is also a scene of brutality that gets a little unsettling.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A nicely played mystery by a fine cast, but a bit contrived and predictable. (C+)