‘The Girl on the Train’

The Good and the Bad


Alcohol, sex, and murder. Sound familiar? For clarification, this is not a review of Gone Girl. The Girl on the Train, directed by Tate Taylor, is a thriller film following the disappearance of a woman who has a strung out life, and whom a woman named Rachel Watson claims to know.

The Girl on the Train, based off the novel by Paula Hawkins, follows alcoholic Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) and her everyday excursion on the train to New York City. However, her life changes when she witnesses a woman cheating on her husband. When the cheating woman, Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), goes missing, Rachel decides to tell police that she saw Megan with a strange man on her balcony the day before she went missing. Alerting the authorities proves to be a wrong move when they start to turn their investigation on the liability of Rachel’s accusations. As you dive further into the film, you find that you cannot trust any of the people involved. Everyone is suspicious.

The cast consists of Emily Blunt (Sicario), Luke Evans (High-Rise), and the infamous Justin Theroux (The Leftovers). There’s no second guess that an Oscar nod is in the works, albeit for Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor. Justin Theroux’s return to the big screen was a one of the big hits of the film with his portrayal of Tom Watson, as well as Rebecca Ferguson’s (Florence Foster Jenkins) genuine portrayal of a concerned Anna Watson. Director Tate Taylor (The Help) was thankfully aided by cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Life) who effortlessly framed shots to set the mood in climactic moments. Overall it’s safe to say that The Girl on the Train is a film that will most likely get a few Oscar nominations. Winning those categories is a different matter.

The novel is set in London, as if changing its location isn’t also a major mistake, the film adaptation takes place in America apparently not phasing the British Ms. Blunt. Yes, she’s portraying an alcoholic so it sounds like she’s talking drivel anyways, but the scarce times she does talk clearly, there is a poor attempt at an American accent. Considering British actor Luke Evans didn’t have the same issue, the parallel is pretty apparent.

The inconsistent accent of Ms. Blunt isn’t the biggest issue the film has, however. The inconsistent plotlines and random moments of revelation are what kills it, literally and figuratively. The moment when Rachel puts two and two together and realizes who ended up murdering Megan is what overall falls flat. It’s like script writer Erin Cressida Wilson decided to give up and let you realize everything yourself.

Emily Blunt’s accent may be dodgy, but her portrayal of an alcoholic is nothing but truth. Unlike some actors who think mumbling words and falling all over the place are two common symptoms for those who have had one too many, Ms. Blunt’s interpretation is impeccable. She is not overtly strung out and manages to show you the effects of alcoholism at it’s finest. Her face, which seems sunken in due to the nights of heavy drinking, shows just how alcoholism is not only physically debilitating, but mentally draining as well. The scene where you see her hiding behind a trashcan pouring alcohol into a water bottle illustrates her addiction without hitting you over the head with a woman who seems overbearing.

As someone who didn’t read the novel, it’s difficult to compare the movie to the book, but from what I can infer, the movie doesn’t dive too far into each detail and the way in which each character evolves. For instance, there’s very little background information on characters who just so happen to be involved in the disappearance of Megan. As a viewer it makes you feel uninformed, and it’s not any surprise that a movie based on a book would have things missing, but when those “things” are character development, background information, and even a concise plot, it’s really difficult to follow.

A lack of character development, plot, and even storytelling is what really makes The Girl on the Train fall short. The cast is renowned (they even got Lisa Kudrow), but was underwhelmed due to the film’s organization. There were scenes of affection that were overwhelming and really just unnecessary, but you can always look past these issues when you look at the acting.

Rating: 6.5/10 – For Emily Blunt’s overwhelming yet underwhelming performance, Justin Theroux’s return in an impacting position, plot holes, and a general misinterpretation of a novel turned into a movie.