THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN [2016]

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Directed by Tate Taylor

Written by Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Paula Hawkins (novel)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Lisa Kudrow


The film begins almost as if it is a clinical study into depression and grief, as we meet Rachel who commutes via train every day, and each time she cannot help but cause herself pain; when she peers out, what she sees is a perfect couple. She does not know them at all, but to her they are the embodiment of love, something she is convinced she will never feel again.

Drawing her attention to the area is the fact that she used to live two doors down. It comes as no surprise then when Rachel can’t help but look two doors down, where her now ex-husband and his new wife and child reside. The situation has driven Rachel deep into depression; we find out that she drank before she was divorced, but this drinking has obviously increased after she split with her fiancée, and this is made clear by a terrific lead performance by Emily Blunt.

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The tale becomes a murder-mystery when Rachel sees Anna – one half of her perfect couple fantasy – ruin that fantasy by (rather stupidly) kissing another man on the front balcony of her house. This sends Rachel into a panic and soon enough, she can’t help but get herself involved, despite having a questionable past with her ex and his new partner two doors down, while not knowing Anna or her husband Scott at all.

What we learn paints a difficult portrait of Rachel, and at times it is hard to feel sorry for her, but depression and addiction are very real, very serious concerns and Rachel is suffering from both. While the other characters may lack depth, we slowly learn more about Rachel and her past, creating a very interesting character – one that I am still thinking about days later.

Her interference into the matters of the seemingly perfect marriage kicks off an investigation, as it turns out that Anne is missing, and Rachel’s visit to the house leads to Anne’s husband becoming a suspect, not to mention herself. Since she experiences blackouts when drinking, she cannot account for her own whereabouts at the time Anna went missing. She often has to be told what she did the night before; a feeling I know far too well.

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While not an immensely entertaining film, this feels like another flick where I can’t help but feel that some critics harbour a dislike for a film before they have even watched them. Perhaps it doesn’t live up to the book? Personally, I had no expectations and while the film didn’t blow me away, a score of under 50% on RT is absurd.

Why?

Because this film deals with domestic abuse within relationships that seem pristine from the outside, as well as depression and addiction. It isn’t as witty or as venomous as something like Gone Girl, but it has variety, depth, and it delves into the nastiness of domestic violence far deeper, which is a world that is much, much, much bigger than some people realise.

Unfortunately, the screenplay here is a little clunky. We spring back and forth from the present to six months ago, to two months ago, to last Friday (the night Anna went missing), and each time the flashback section isn’t clearly separated from the present, making it hard to know where we are within the chronology of the film. Are we still two months back, or are we back in the present?? It can be hard to tell at times.

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Additionally, some events are revisited later from a different angle, completely unnecessarily as they only serve to serve the viewer more information, making sure that they know exactly what happened. It feels a little condescending; we aren’t that stupid, leave some of it to the imagination, eh??

I did find the final act to be quite tense as I don’t tend to try and guess ‘whodunnit’, I just like to sit back and enjoy the film without over-thinking the plot too much. But after having seen this once, I can’t imagine I’d experience the same feeling of tension on a second viewing, especially considering how much information is force-fed to the viewer.

As for people who do like to try and figure it all out, it isn’t exactly out of left field, though I still maintain that some of the final scenes are quite powerful, making some poignant comments on the treatment of alcoholics/drug-addicts as well as often-unseen domestic violence, which comes in many forms, not only physical harm.

While it certainly starts slow, The Girl On The Train, despite the silly title, is more than a simple and tidy ‘whodunnit’ flick. Perhaps the negative reception is due to the fact that the film can feel a little depressing at times, but guess what Jack?

Life is depressing. Deal with it.

What the film really shows is how a small set-back can ruin a person’s life if they aren’t emotionally and/or mentally well, as Rachel desperately, and irrationally, wants to solve the case herself while simultaneously trying to put together her string of blackouts. It isn’t truly entertaining until the last act, but it certainly gets you thinking.

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This adaptation of a best-selling book has much to offer, dabbling in two areas that aren’t flashy but are rooted in reality; domestic violence and alcoholism. 4.5 beer - no beer topThe way it explores this story though isn’t very smooth, especially regarding the flashbacks. It does however possess this simple yet gritty story (whose rights were bought before the book was even released!) and while it may not be delivered in the most thrilling way, the film says many things while offering an interesting murder-mystery scenario.

This is a multi-faceted film. Bugger the critics.

One and a half beers short of a sixer

4.5/6

17 Comments on “THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN [2016]

  1. I have to say I’m familiar (albeit a very long time ago) with alcoholic blackouts. At least one person I knew at the time indulged in a bit of gas-lighting, assuming I never remembered anything. Oh, but I did. I like to see this movie. Not least of all to see a representation of a struggling alcohol. I also really like Emily Blunt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley! Hi there, how are you?

      Emily Blunt is great in this. The other characters are pretty thin, but seeing the struggle with alcohol was pretty heavy. It was familiar for me as well, when I was taking pain pills all the time I’d have similar nights where I just remembered nothing and had to be told how I ruined someone’s birthday or something =/

      I think you’d like this one Ashley

      Like

  2. The movie for me felt like a real standard thriller I would see in the 90’s. The so called reveal at the end wasn’t at all excting for me. In a way it felt too much like Dude Where’s my car if it was made into a thriller.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, bummer you didn’t take to this mate. Maybe its cos I saw myself in the main character, but while the structure isn’t exciting at all really, I thought it really hit some high notes about alcoholism/addiction and also domestic violence

      Like

  3. The mixed reviews for this film have been entertaining. I still need to see it. HUGE fan of EMily Blunt and feel she deserves chunkier roles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sher is fantastic in this. People are talking about her being a thin character but man, I don’t know what movie they are watching. She’s got multiple issues and they all affect her, and Blunt portrays it very well. I hope you enjoy it yourself Keith 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Apparently it isn’t the best adaptation I’ve heard. But I maintain that the ending does have some moments where you’ll be holding your breath, while the character of Rachel is just so fascinating, the combination of alcoholism and domestic violence really hit home for me.

      I hope you like it Allie! 🙂

      Like

  4. I quite enjoyed the book and I am a big fan of Emily so I will definitely see this one. Great write up, good to know the movie explores her addiction it was very realistically portrayed in the novel

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought Emily nailed. It feels like people want this to be the next Gone Girl, but they are so different! This has a lot more to say and isn’t as thrilling, though the final act was pretty great I thought. Keen you read your thoughts on it

      Like

  5. Pingback: TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016 | epileptic moondancer

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