Review: The Girl on the Train

A taut, grim thriller with plenty of twists and turns and great characters.

An alcoholic ex-wife takes a train ride daily that passes by her old house. When she sees something unusual happening in one of the next door houses during one particular trip, she starts to investigate. But when secrets and relationships become entangled, is it her drink-addled mind playing tricks on her?

Cited as “This year’s Gone Girl“, The Girl on the Train isn’t quite the same high calibre, but it is certainly in a similar style of thriller. This is a bleak, unpleasant affair; you aren’t going to feel especially happy while watching it. Our lead character Rachel, played by Emily Blunt, is a cronic alcoholic and is on a path of self-destruction. Her ex, Tom, is now living with a young woman and has a child, while their neighbours, Scott and Megan, are a picture perfect couple. Naturally, Rachel goes off the deep end after two years of self-pity.

But when she’s especially hammered, she confronts who she believes to be an adulterer, wakes up the following morning to find news that Megan is missing. No one knows where she is.

I really won’t spoil this, like all good thrillers The Girl on the Train is exceptionally twisty and relies on duping the audience. It is very effective at making us “profile” the characters; we quickly appreciate that while Rachel is the lead, we cannot trust her perspective, and so we must unravel each character’s personalities as the story progresses. Progresses it does, with gusto and excellent pacing.
Having watched Suicide Squad recently, I am shocked at how far this film pushed its 15 certification for the UK (or more to the point, how little Suicide Squad did with it). Damn. This film is sex-mad, bloody and often foul-mouthed. All through a lens of realism, it makes for uncomfortable watching.
Performances area all exceptional. Especially from our myriad of actresses, Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett as Megan, Rebecca Ferguson (the same who also wow’ed in Mission: Impossible 5) and Allison Janney. Even Lisa Kudrow is here and does well! There really isn’t any singular element wrong in it, it was seamless through and through.

I will say though, it isn’t without one misgiving from me… While I did love everything mentioned already, the cinematography, the setup and execution of the first and second acts makes for an incredible twisting and turning investigation. The final act, and especially the final twist, made everything a little… underwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t ruin it. But upon reflection I felt for all the incredible work it did to compell and create original characters, motivations and drives, the final twist felt surprisingly pedestrian in comparison. I suppose I was expecting even more incredible things to follow already incredible storytelling, whereas the end result was fairly plain, even expected.

I would highly recommend The Girl on the Train, though I would advise to watch it when you are in a good mood! Emily Blunt and Haley Bennett bring it all to the table and the film pulls no punches. It is a visceral, uncompromising dive into the psyche of broken, weak humanity.



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