The Girl on The Train is a 2016 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. Written by Erin Cressida Wilson, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez and Lisa Kudrow, the film tells the story of lonely, alcoholic, divorcee Rachel Watson – played by Blunt – who watches a young woman – Megan, played by Bennett – as she rides the train everyday. When Megan goes missing after Rachel spots her kissing another man, Rachel decides to help Megan’s husband find her.
This is another one of those films with a trailer that is, by far, better than the film itself.
It is by no means as interesting, intriguing or thrilling as the trailers and marketing suggested it would be.
It has a story that should lend itself to making a captivating, riveting and suspenseful film that engrosses the audience so completely that they hold their breath until it is over.
But that doesn’t happen.
For the vast majority of the film it’s kind of a bore, nothing happens and it goes nowhere. The characters are dull, the story is “meh” and the plot is stagnant.
It’s just bland.
The plot is all over the place, going backward and forward in time. It’s not confusing, however, because the filmmakers use intertitles. It doesn’t lend anything to the film though, or do anything to enhance the story and it certainly does not move the plot forward. The jumping around in time only really serves a purpose toward character development.
There is a twist near the very end of the film that only an incredibly astute viewer could see coming. It’s hard to say if that is a good thing or a bad thing; there is nothing in the film preceding it that even hints at it being a possibility. There is a difference between being subtle and completely omitting information and the filmmakers here, it seems, do not know that.
However, about half of the film is told from Rachel’s point-of-view and as an alcoholic who tends to black out and lose her memory, she is a very unreliable narrator so that could account for that.
The film really picks up and delivers on the promise of the trailer after the twist. The twist turns the entire story on its head, changes the audiences perception of virtually every character and solves the mystery of Megan’s disappearance, simultaneously. It more or less ties up everything. The film instantly becomes enthralling.
Unfortunately, it’s basically over by that point and that one good part toward the end makes up less then a third of the film’s run-time.
The acting in the film is very good, particularly from Blunt and Bennett.
There is a scene early on in which Blunt’s character, Rachel, has a break down in a public bathroom. Blunt’s performance here is raw, visceral and disturbing. The audience pities her and is taken aback at the same time. Blunt succeeds in making the audience have a deep and emotional response to the character.
Bennett had scenes that called for just as much emotion and she gave just as excellent a performance. Megan feels real and Bennett brings a vulnerability to the role that enables the audience to sympathise with Megan.
As stated above, the majority of the film is dedicated to developing the characters and not the plot. Rachel and Megan are fairly well developed, but not as much attention is paid to the other characters in the film. The audience has an almost complete understanding of who and why they are and how they ended up in the situations they are in.
The Girl on The Train is far more boring than it should be. The only really good thing about it is the acting and character development. Everything else leaves a lot to be desired; they are middling at best. It is not at all a terrible film, but it’s not good either and it’s a little less then mediocre.