Weekly Review: The Girl on the Train (2016)

Rachel takes the train to Manhattan every day. In her travels, she imagines the life of Megan, a woman she passes by on her daily commute, a person she feels has the perfect life. When Rachel sees something shocking in Megan’s yard, shortly before Megan turns up missing, she attempts to take that information to the police. When the police question her credibility, she decides to investigate the case herself.

The Girl on the Train is based on a best selling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. It stars Emily Blunt as the lead character with supporting roles played by Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, and Justin Theroux. Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, and Lisa Kudrow also play minor roles in the film.

With a star studded cast and Tate Taylor as director, it would seem that The Girl on the Train was destined to be a good film. Unfortunately, this is not entirely the case.

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This is a mystery, crime thriller, so it’s not entirely boring. It definitely has a good atmosphere, carried mostly by voiceover in an attempt to do justice to its literary source material. The locations are gorgeous, and the performance by Emily Blunt is pretty great. She goes all in for her character.

Despite these positive attributes, The Girl on the Train only manages to be an okay movie. The cast members aren’t really given much to do, mostly being character shells. The story becomes more ridiculous and far less believable as it teeters toward its end. This movie manages to be a daytime soap opera while also being a bit of a voyeur picture.

That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy The Girl on the Train. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed watching it. I was thoroughly compelled by Blunt’s performance, and it was fun to try to figure out the mystery as it was going on. I’m a fan of those types of movies. If you are too, then you might enjoy this. It is important to note at this point that I have not read the book.

Often throughout The Girl on the Train, I was reminded of Gone Girl. This film attempts to be a smart, noir type film, similar to Gone Girl, but it lacks the same feeling. They are similar in theme and similar in execution (disjointed narratives from multiple perspectives), but it doesn’t manage to hit the same notes.

The Girl on the Train definitely earns its R rating. It’s not for the kids. I mentioned earlier that it’s a bit of a voyeur picture. I mean this in both a literal and figurative way. While Rachel is literally spying on the people she passes on the train, the movie continues to feel like the audience is spying on the other characters, even when the information is being directly presented.

It’s all very personal, very private information. The movie battles with themes of addiction, infidelity, paranoia, grief and loss. It’s some heavy stuff. The story just continues to pile it on though. It ends up being too heavy. The end result is a bit of a rushed, campy showdown that made me laugh when I probably shouldn’t have.

Overall, The Girl on the Train can be a fun ride if you suspend your disbelief and just go with it. That doesn’t give it much staying power for any additional watches though. If you’re a fan of crime mysteries, this might be right up your alley.

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