A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.
‘The Girl on the Train’ has came into cinemas with much hype, hot on the heels of a bestselling novel that in turn came hot on the heels of ‘Gone Girl’ (both book and the David Fincher film). With those expectations, ‘The Girl on the Train’ is moderately disappointing but this is a solid thriller and I enjoyed it for the most part. As the title suggests, the film follows the titular ‘Girl on the Train’, Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt), an alcoholic divorcee who has clearly never fully moved on from her past. From the train she commutes on every day she goes past her ex-husband’s house, where he lives with his new wife, and a neighbouring house where a seemingly idyllic couple live. Rachel spends a lot of time (too much time, really) immersing herself in these people’s lives, and when someone goes missing she ends up involved in the investigation, not entirely unwittingly.
The film gets off to a shaky start, mainly due to some choppy editing and direction that tries to introduce us to the three main females involved in the story without considering how the film flows when jumping from character to character allowing no time for the audience to breathe. The film is a lot stronger when it focuses on Rachel herself, who is a compelling character, and she’s superbly played by Emily Blunt who delivers an uncanny portrayal of drunkenness. A lot of Blunt’s performance is internal and she sells the feelings of regret and hurt in her character incredibly well, and even a clumsy voiceover can’t take away from her work. When ‘The Girl on the Train’ falters, Blunt is never too far behind to pick it up and elevate it again.
‘The Girl on the Train’ was always going to be compared to ‘Gone Girl’ (a film I considered one of the best of 2014), which had both better material and a better director, and ‘The Girl on the Train’ does feel subpar in just about every way. The plot is fairly predictable to work out (and I’m usually one of the last to click with twists etc!) and when the revelations start coming they feel a little rushed. For example, one of the film’s key themes is barely explored and introduced hastily towards the end, and I think the film would have benefited from a little reflection time to let the audience really take in Rachel’s experiences. I also think the film could have exercised a little restraint as it approaches its overly melodramatic conclusion, with some of the violence excessive in my view and less than subtle in drawing some of the film’s themes together. One of the surprisingly pleasing elements of the film is the effective score from Danny Elfman, which is a world away from his work with Tim Burton.
‘The Girl on the Train’ is an effective thriller that held my attention, but for those expecting something more sophisticated or clever, you’d be best to look elsewhere.
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Prepon