This review contains no spoilers
It’s obvious that this novel-to-movie adaptation is dominated by cheap thrills since the tension we expect never comes close to the track. But having Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario) on the train help intensifying most of the turns, saving The Girl on the Train from its derailed plot and overreactive execution. The English-American actress delivers a terrific solo performance of her character dealing with depression after divorce, gives Blunt another dramatic achievement into her portfolio.
Before the answer to “What did she see?” is served, The Girl on the Train opens up with Blunt’s Rachel being fragile and heartbroken while narrating her pathetic backstory. Her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), cheats with an attractive property agent as a result of Rachel’s chronic alcoholic behavior. Now, Tom lives a brand new happy life with that other woman while Rachel is haunted by her own desire to live another happy marriage.
It starts when Rachel notices this particular young woman from afar while commuting to New York on a city train. Rachel barely knows her but quickly connects with her. Especially after Rachel learns through what she sees that the woman is a happily married wife, her desire turns into delusion and the plot seems to churn. Rachel’s interest of this woman, Megan (Hailey Bennet), grows stronger each day, turns Rachel unconsciously a stalker. And when suddenly Megan is reportedly missing, Rachel feels obliged to help.
Unfortunately, Rachel’s offering to help is interpreted so negatively. Her good intention is regarded as an excuse as well as disguise to her seemingly disturbed mental state. However, regardless of any acceptance, we come up with a question whether Rachel really acknowledges the truth or it’s just her delusion coincidentally turning reality. This fuzzy area is a promising yet cliche part of a thriller genre to solve, especially with some characters intertwined at the same moment.
The tricky part is to place Rachel in-between without revealing too much hints to the audience as well as to let the revelation move behind without being noticed. As for the first, thanks to the delusion that Blunt appears convincingly uncertain when being trapped in such unfortunate situation. As for the latter, little does Rachel know that Bennet’s Megan has a narration of her own with a probability to reveal what both Rachel and audience aren’t aware of. What appears not so smart is these intertwining elements don’t get further development, leaving the potential to enrich Rachel’s motive to help and strengthen Megan’s reason of being unhappy, neglected.
Through intermittent scenes with a psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal (Edgar Ramirez), turns out that Megan is troubled by her demanding husband, Scott (Luke Evans), makes her marriage no much different with Rachel’s. Worse for Rachel that she’s been biased by her prejudice and the worst appears once she’s a suspect to Megan’s unknown whereabout.
Rachel may feel less anxious since she’s not the only suspect. Anyone close to Megan prior to her missing; Scott and Kamal, are also investigated. But it’s Rachel’s being too obstinate to what she saw causing Scott and Kamal unreasonably entangled. This convoluted turn even winds down the potential thrill of Rachel’s delusion, makes this flick comes up with an unnecessary twist instead. Megan’s missing investigation becomes the main subject towards the end thus, once again ignores the fulfilling desire of Rachel and household dilemma of Megan.
No Gone Girl’s Amy
We heard this controversy and all we can say is stop comparing with Gone Girl, any of its version. Gone Girl digs deep Amy’s normal-to-lunatic backstory. It’s all about Amy, any states of her action and mentality; once she naturally goes mad when she find her husband cheating, once she intentionally disappears after she finds her husband cheating, and once she plans to return in order to avenge her husband. Amy is a character very well developed so that she appears to have two distinctive personalities; Amazing Amy, a popular children book’s writer public love, and Amy Dunn, a heavily exploited wife turning a serial killer of her own story.
Plotwise, The Girl on the Train develops many characters with a focus to bring back Rachel to the girl she used to be. We learn that Rachel goes mad due to her inability to conceive a child, followed by her startled marriage with Tom. However, unlike Amy, Rachel is not all this Girl on the Train about. Rachel herself opens up and lets her happy delusion in form of Megan and her hatred in form of Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), come in. Comparing with Amy, Rachel is no author of her story, she lets everyone around her decide for her life especially whenever she’s out of her mind. It’s not her fault but simply the situation she’s stuck in anyway.
Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennet, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow, Laura Prepon
Duration: 112 mins