by Sherry Lipp
Despite a top-notch performance from Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train is an uninspired thriller that broadcasts its twists a mile away. I haven’t read the novel by Paula Hawkins, but I can only hope it does a better job in the suspense department. The setup isn’t bad, but by the time it winds its way to its inevitable end, it’s totally worn out its welcome.
The lives of three women, Rachel (Blunt), Megan (Haley Bennett), and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), are intertwined seemingly by Rachel’s daily train ride. The train passes by the homes of Megan and Anna and each day Rachel imagines the perfect lives they must be leading as she catches glimpses of them through the train window. Rachel’s own life is in shambles. She’s recently divorced and has developed a horrible drinking problem that causes her to blackout.
After a particularly bad drinking binge and subsequent blackout, Megan wakes up in a pool of blood and vomit with no memory of what happened the night before. It doesn’t take her long to figure out that something horrible happened that night once Megan is reported missing and police detective Sgt. Riley (an underutilized Allison Janney) is asking her a bunch of questions. Rachel becomes obsessed with unlocking her lost memories and finding out what happened to Megan.
It’s an interesting start, but as details are slowly revealed the film starts to become silly and preposterous. Serious issues like alcoholism, infidelity, abuse, and post traumatic stress disorder are exploited for pulpy shock value rather than dealt with in any serious or meaningful way. It seems director Tate Taylor (The Help) has confused a slow, meandering pace with suspense. The plot’s main “twist” becomes pretty obvious about half way through the film. The rest of story involves waiting for everyone in the film to figure out what’s already right in front of their eyes.
The Girl on the Train Images: Universal Pictures