The Girl On The Train
Director: Tate Taylor
Screenwriter: Erin Cressida Wilson
Cast: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated R | 112 Minutes
Release Date: October 7, 2016
There is a common thread that draws a missing person’s thriller together. Usually, it’s the general motifs like the cheating wife, the sex, the lies, the drama, the kinds of things you’d probably see in a low-budget Lifetime movie. But because David Fincher’s Gone Girl was such a success, it is easy to see why some studios may be showing a bit of interest in the material. Though The Girl On The Train bares a strong resemblance to Gone Girl, director Tate Taylor, using a script written by Erin Cressida Wilson, makes a valiant effort to separate his film from the rest for a relatively entertaining movie. Check out the full review below.
Emily Blunt plays Rachel, a disengaged alcoholic divorcee who has hit rock bottom. To get to her job each day, she takes a daily commuter train where she sits in the same seat in the same car to catch a glimpse of a couple she knows nothing about as she passes by their home. So she channels her inner artist to make up stories according to her mood, believing they are living a life she could have lived or a life she formerly lived. However, one morning, she witnesses the wife in the arms of another man, which turns her creativity into an obsession as she sets out to find why the wife was cheating on her husband. Rachel’s obsession soon takes a drastic turn for the worse when she becomes the center of an investigation after the wife suddenly goes missing.
The strength of the film comes from the three actresses playing pivotal roles. Here we have Blunt as Rachel, whose obsession and frequent alcoholic relapses make her a very unreliable witness and untrustworthy character. But while there are many things going against her, she is at the heart of the story as she goes out of her way to try to solve a murder she has no business in solving. It’s her persistence to solve this missing person’s case that forces her to put down the bottle and reclaim her life. The missing wife in question is Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett). For two years, Rachel has watched Megan and her husband Scott (Luke Evans) and imagined them living out her fantasies. She is clearly unable to look away as the couple is the only constant that is keeping her alive. But it isn’t paradise when the train leaves as the film peels back the truth behind Megan and Scott’s volatile relationship, with Megan having a few skeletons in her closet and Scott a very strongly emotional guy. Finally, there is Rachel’s ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux), who now lives with his beautiful new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and their baby in the house Rachel practically decorated herself. As if that wasn’t one huge middle finger to Rachel.
Going any deeper would just spoil the entire story of The Girl On The Train, and while it is cheesy and has its flaws, the film wouldn’t be where it is without Blunt’s terrific performance as the title character. Rachel is clearly suffering as any woman would if her husband left her for another woman and lived in the same house she was kicked out of. She constantly paints an ugly picture of herself when she goes out on benders, and the film depicts her as a person with a very ugly character. However, it is the mystery of Megan’s disappearance that brings her out of the darkness, as she begins to find out that there is more to life than an empty bottle of vodka.
Having Blunt play Rachel is brilliant, because of the contrast between the actress and the character she plays. Blunt has plenty of charm and likability, whereas Rachel’s benders and disregard for her own safety makes her out to be the kind of character most would have no hope for. So for Blunt to go against what she normally plays is really refreshing and shows her versatility as an actress. Bennett is also mesmerizing as Megan, whose past is a whole different kind of dark when compared to Rachel’s. Then there’s Anna. We’ll just keep it at that, because, again, describing her role would be venturing into spoiler territory.
Because the film has three different points of view from three very unreliable characters, it can become hard to trust or even believe that any one of them is telling the truth. It’s a difficult narrative to balance out, and one that can prove a bit tedious to watch play out because it does at times delve into a soap opera territory with its cheesy twists. But even with those faults, The Girl On The Train is still very entertaining to watch.