The Girl on the Train instantly has two things going for it. It features two actresses that will get me in the theater no matter what the film’s subject matter is about. I’m respectfully talking Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson. Ever since Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario and Mission Impossible Rogue Nation I’m a sucker for both of them. Second, Entertainment Weekly talked so highly of this feature several issues ago that it warranted my attention. No. I take that back. Their praise of The Girl on the Train absolutely demanded my undivided attention. So here we are. The moment is upon us and I’m eager to blow this train’s whistle. Let’s stop this train and get on already!
The Girl on the Train is billed as a mystery/thriller/drama. It’s directed by Tate Taylor off a script written by Erin Cressida Wilson. That’s all of course courtesy of the property which it was adapted from. I’m referring to the 2015 debut novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. Now just think about this for a quick moment. The novel came out in 2015. The filmmakers really wasted no time getting this off the ground and running. I wish everything in life was that productive. Ha! Last but certainly not least, in addition to Emily and Rebecca the movie has a grand roster of names. They include Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux (Aniston’s squeeze), Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Prepon.
So you’re probably thinking to yourself great we have some decent household names. However, what do they all have to do about a girl and a train? Relax! I’m getting to that part. Emily Blunt stars as Rachel Watson. Rachel is a lonely and alcoholic divorcee who takes the train to work every day. That kind of sounds like a lot of us worker drones in life, huh? Absolutely! And like us all she spends her commute time fantasizing and day dreaming. In this particular story here she fixates on a young couple living down the street from her ex-husband (Theroux). Then one fateful train ride, she sees something shocking. It triggers something within her. The beast is freed and she kind of goes into beast mode herself. As a result she finds herself entangled in a mystery, one that alters the lives of everyone involved. Now we’re getting to the good part!
The Girl on the Train is a mind trip, a delicious hot mess of fun, double-crossing, twists, abuse, sex, manipulation, lies, deceit, neglect, reveals and so much more. In other words, it’s everything that makes a great movie! There’s so much I like about that I wasn’t the least put off by the film’s slow moving narrative. It managed to grip me instantly and soon as we rolled into Act 2 I was smitten and hooked. The movie’s obviously a work of fiction, but the premise isn’t so far fetch when you really think about it. I mean, we all day dream, right? We all find ourselves staring at people in public. We often find ourselves wondering what other’s lives are all about when we find them intriguing. Don’t lie. It happens to me and I’m willing to wager anything that it happens to you. That’s what makes The Girl on the Train such a worthwhile ride to me…its realism.
Speaking of realism I love the way The Girl on the Train deals with such subjects such as alcoholism, spousal abuse, neglect and whatnot. It tackles the subjects in such a visceral manner onscreen that it just feels real and genuine. For example, it leaves you feeling wow that’s how it really goes down when someone drinks that much or cheats on you. That pain, that rage, that beast mode we all feel inside is raw and on display here. It’s quite a powerful experience to behold. However, all that’s fine and dandy, but you need good writers and a heck of a cast to pull all of this off. Thankfully, The Girl on the Train has both of these!
Just as I suspected, Emily Blunt was phenomenal in her performance as the damaged Rachel Watson. Take it a step further and the same can be said for the rest of the cast. I could not pinpoint a weakness in any of the players here if you asked me to. They were all believable and authentic in the portrayal of their onscreen characters and the attributes they brought to life. They felt carefully crafted, fleshed and three-dimensional. This is important when we are dealing with dark, raw, emotionally charged subject matter like this. The tiniest blunder can snap that much needed suspension of disbelief. Thankfully that never happens here. I’m adding this to my top list of Blunt films. Ferguson also shows us the manipulative depth she can bring here. As opposed to many of us who know here from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation she portrays a very different kind of character here. She’s almost an antagonist to Rachel, as Tom’s new wife Anna Watson, but in reality she’s so much more. And what else can I say about Haley Bennett here other than the fact that 2016 is clearly her year. I see a very bright future for her.
While I believe The Girl on the Train could have been even greater than it was I’m obviously satisfied with the end product here. I fear some may label this thriller as predictable. I can see that. Yes, it feels like a messy Lifetime movie at times, but one that has been derailed and sexually exploited getting away with what they can’t show on regular cable. There’s also the employment of gripping time shifts that fully fleshes out the narrative. That’s not to deny the crafty use of intertwined plotlines that exemplifies its female leads pitting them squarely against each other. Who can you trust?
The Girl on the Train is a he said, she said, whodunnit kind of a story that has a solid payoff and ultimately won’t keep you in the shadows for long. However, it’s the train ride we take to get there that’s worth the price of admission for me. It’s the satisfaction you feel leaving the theater with everything having fully played out on screen. Finally, it’s those visceral, believable performances that propels The Girl on the Train over that of a subpar Lifetime movie. It’s not perfect and it won’t please every crowd I’m sure, but it was just enough to captivate me for three hours. If I had one complaint, it would be Act 3 didn’t go down exactly as I was hoping for although it was still a satisfying conclusion for me. Buy a ticket and ride this train. What do you have to lose (besides time, patience and your money)?