Last weekend I went to see The Girl on the Train in theaters. I haven’t read the book yet so I approached the film anticipating suspense but unsure what to expect.
The film features suspense, intrigue, obsession, alcoholism and violence. The film has drawn many comparisons to Gone Girl. Like Gone Girl, it’s an intensely dramatic story that shocks and intrigues. It absolutely reels you in trying to figure out what is real and what is fabricated.
The film centers around Rachel (Emily Blunt), an alcoholic divorcee who is obsessed with her past life and ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux).
Every day Rachel rides the same train and passes the same houses. She spends her time fantasizing about this seemingly perfect couple she always sees as the train goes past their house. One morning her fantasy is shattered when she sees the woman (Haley Bennett) with another man.
When this woman goes missing, Rachel gets caught up in the police investigation. The missing woman, Megan, lives only a few doors down from Rachel’s ex-husband and works as his family’s nanny.
Rachel’s out-of-control alcoholism and absolute obsession force viewers to sort through the layers of the complex case and her erratic behavior to discover the truth. Throughout the film, all she does is ride the train, drink, stalk Tom and obsess about Megan’s disappearance.
Emily Blunt is the glue of this film. She gives a fantastic performance as the troubled and tragic Rachel. Watching the drama unfold through the eyes of a narrator you don’t entirely trust is a very unsettling yet captivating experience. I switched back and forth between empathizing with her and suspecting her of murder throughout the entire film.
The beautiful cinematography is worth noting, as is Danny Elfman’s dark and intriguing musical score. At the film’s most intense and distressing moments, the unsettling soundtrack builds the tension and forces the audience to feel Rachel’s internal distress.
The Girl on the Train didn’t leave me in shock the way some films in this genre have, but watching the story unfold through the hazy lens of such an imperfect character kept me focused in desperate anticipation to uncover the film’s secrets. The twist, a convention of this genre of film, was well executed if not entirely unpredictable. The film’s ending gave me the answers I craved, but I still felt a bit unsatisfied with it after so much buildup.
I recommend this film to fans of Gone Girl and other psychological thrillers and melodramas. Despite its overall low ratings by official critics, I give The Girl on the Train a solid 7/10. Watch the movie or better yet, read the book.