“Based on the thriller that shocked the world.” Really now? I mean, I’ve never heard of the book this movie is based on (big shock), and I frequent the internet, so why do I doubt the impact of this novel? I mean, maybe the book’s good. I wouldn’t know. But… I doubt it was that good. Even now, looking at this trailer, it doesn’t look remotely close to a movie that’s about to shake the very mental foundation of the planet. I mean, what is this movie about? A lonely woman who sees a hot woman having an affair with a man from the window of a train and suddenly she goes missing, but claims to have seen her… and now everyone is accusing her of doing it? Yeah, I’m not buying this story… at all.
But let’s take a look at the more impressive cast. Starring is Emily Blunt, an actress who’s popularity sees an increase spike every year and for damn good reason, probably thanks to her role in EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014). She’s got unbelievable talent and makes any movie she’s a part of shine, even if the movies themselves, or even the roles themselves aren’t that great, like THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (2016), SICARIO (2015), and INTO THE WOODS (2014). And for those of you that don’t know, she’s been cast as Mary Poppins in MARY POPPINS RETURNS (2018), the sequel to the hit 1964 Disney film. She’s got the voice to pull it off, so cross your fingers, fanboys and girls. Co-starring is Allison Janney (MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN , JUNO , and TV show MOM), Haley Bennett (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN , HARDCORE HENRY , and THE EQUALIZER ), Luke Evans (FURIOUS 7 , the last two Hobbit films, and DRACULA UNTOLD ), and many more.
Now for behind the scenes. Directing Tate Taylor, who’s done THE HELP (2011) and GET ON UP (2014). Writing the screenplay is Erin Cressida Wilson, who penned MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (2014) and CHLOE (2009). The cinematographer is Charlotte Bruus Christensen, who’s worked on FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (2015) and THE HUNT (2012). I probably rattled off some unknown names there, so how about I throw in one that’s sure to wake you up: Danny Elfman. Oh yeah, he’s the composer for this movie. The guy responsible for the music in nearly every single Tim Burton film is doing this. Now, I don’t want to make it sound like quirky, bouncy dark themes are all he’s done in his career, as he’s done some pretty high profile stuff outside of Burton and you wouldn’t guess it was him. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015), FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015), SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012), and so much more. I’m gonna pay a little extra attention to the music this time around, see if it stands out at all.
Overall, I think the trailers for this movie are incredibly dull and seem incredibly confused. I know a bad trailer doesn’t necessarily mean a bad movie, but this also has some early ratings that make it seem less than promising. RottenTomatoes currently has it at 45% and IMDb has it at a 6.7/10 (both as of 10/6/2016). So I’m going in expecting something not… great, but I hope to see some great performances. This is my honest opinion of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.
Rachel (Emily Blunt) is divorced from her husband Tom (Justin Theroux). Primarly due to her being an alcoholic. Every day, she rides the train and observes everyone she sees. Eventually, she obsesses over this blond woman, Megan (Haley Bennett), and her husband, Scott (Luke Evans), believing their relationship to be the epitome of passionate romance. However, one day, she spots Megan with another man from the train. Weighing heavily on her mind one day, and very drunk, she leaves the train and then sees Megan enter a tunnel, intending to tell her she’s a whore. But before much could be said, Rachel is knocked unconscious and wakes up with an injury on her head. Before she knows it, the news reports that Megan has gone missing. To make matters even more complicated, she’s the nanny of Rachel’s ex-husband. Before long, the police have begun to question her. While there’s no evidence to charge her with anything, Detective Riley (Allison Janney) holds her pretty responsible for what happened. In order to clear her name, she needs to remember what happened that night… whether the truth hurts or not.
DISCLAIMER: I never read the book.
It’s solid. Disappointing, but I don’t want to say that it’s a bad film… nor was it very surprising that it’d be disappointing. Again “shocked the world,” that makes it sound like it would be a movie on par with THE GODFATHER and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. It really isn’t. It’s… average.
Let’s start with what the film does undeniably right: the cast. Blunt probably puts on the most accurate drunk performance I’ve ever seen. She walks like a real drunk person. Tripping over their own steps, but still coherent enough to walk in the desired direction. They can talk, slur their word a little, but with enough effort, can still formulate a complete and articulate sentence, and Blunt does this really well. But more than that, you see a woman who is still wrestling with mixed emotions about her husband’s affair and marriage to the other woman. There’s a constant battle of knowing why it happened, because she can’t have children, which prompted her drinking, and wanted to quit. But it’s like she knows quitting won’t solve anything, so she keeps on drinking anyway, making her a very sympathetic character.
Now for Rebecca Ferguson. First of all, can I just say how much of a chameleon she is when she’s a blond? I seriously for the life of me did not know that was her as Anna. She looked so eerily similar to Bennett that I thought the characters were sisters. And I had a hard enough time trying to remember that Bennett isn’t Jennifer Lawrence (seriously, doesn’t she look like her???). But enough about that, Ferguson is amazing!! Does this woman have a video of her just watching paint dry on Youtube? Because she’d make it interesting. I love her performance here, and by extension, her chemistry with Blunt. Granted, it’s very brief chemistry and only happens, like, three times in the movie, each under five minutes long, but it’s still such a gem when it happens. But for now, let me gush over Ferguson alone. Might wanna skip ahead because I has a huge crush (I know that wasn’t grammatically correct! Pretty women make me dumb! Leave me alone!). She plays Anna, the woman that Tom cheats on Rachel with and eventually marries and has a baby with. There is a great deal of tension between the two women, and for good reason. Cheating aside, there is an incident when Rachel was crazy drunk, broke into their house (it was unlocked… for some reason), and took their baby. Didn’t hurt it, but scared the shit out of Anna. Now, she’s constantly has a fear and hatred for Rachel whenever she’s around or even mentioned… which begs the question, why weren’t the police involved when that happened? In any case, Ferguson is damn good in this movie.
Below are the spoilers, and it’s primarily there that I have my real issues with the movie. About the only non-spoiler issue I had was the voice-over narratives. They seem to bug me more and more then their only purpose is tell us what’s happening even though we could just watch the scene and figure out what they’re thinking.
I also really liked Theroux and how his character was handled. Throughout the entire story, he’s built up to be this mister perfect. He cheated on his wife because of her alcoholism and how she ruined too much of his life. He married, for all intents and purposes, a better woman. She can have children, and she’s a straight arrow, apart from literally saying to Tom’s face, “I miss being the other woman.” He was there to help Rachel recall her lost memories from all the times she got blackout drunk, and had to deal with the her drunken state after their divorce, it’s pretty expertly woven. The best part is that he was lying the entire time. He’s the one who killed Megan and that was a legit great twist. The entire time that Rachel was blacking out, Tom was making up stories to make her feel worse, to justify his cheating and divorce. He killed Megan because she wouldn’t get an abortion for her child. He’s a pretty rotten bastard by the end of the movie. Plus, that ending is unbelievably awesome with Rachel stabbing him in the throat as he tries to kill her, but it’s Anna that finishes him off by screwing the wine key deeper in.
But I do have questions about him. Was it absolutely necessary to lie to her about the blackouts? If he wanted to leave her, why didn’t he just leave her? This isn’t explored. And you’d think as soon as he cheated on Anna, why does he still want to be with her? The baby? He clearly doesn’t give as much shit about his family as he does about sexual satisfaction.
Bennett. For an otherwise great actress, I wasn’t entirely behind her role as Megan, mostly because of the inconsistencies. Okay, she’s this cheating addict, right? So… why did she get married if she’s just going to open her legs for any man? You’d think people who use sex as a means of forgetting things that happen to them, marriage wouldn’t be on their list of things to do. Most of the story is building her up to be this almost awful person. She’s has no real moral compass and will have sex with whoever has a penis, with no regards to her husband. So it’s kind of hard to feel any real compassion for her when she disappears. I mean, yes, it’s a tragedy, but still. And it’s like the movie knows this, so in order to try and save face, they give her a tragic backstory that feels almost tacked on: she had a baby at seventeen and accidentally killed it. This sure explains her reluctance to start a family with Scott, leading to the fights, but I still don’t really buy into the sex-craze thing. I mean, I get what it’s supposed to mean for her: be with a man who doesn’t want anything from her, but… how do you think babies get made? And lo and behold, when her body is found, she’s pregnant! And she wanted to keep it! Well… shit, that wasn’t exactly explored. Why would she want to keep it if she never really wanted to get it in the first place? I don’t know, a smart woman who doesn’t want children will take precautions into preventing that from happening.
Circling back to Anna, I do have to ask why she still wants to be with him even when she found out that he was having affairs on her. Multiple affairs no less. She even finds Megan’s phone that Tom… quite fucking moronically keeps in the house, instead of, oh I don’t know, tossing down a random sewage drain. To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure she pieced together that he killed her, but she’s still saying, “I won’t leave him.” Care to elaborate on that, missy?
Overall, the performances are spot-on. Most of the characters have logical problems that could have really benefited from some explanation, but the damage is done and the movie is far from perfect as a result. It’s not bad by any means, so if you’re a fan of the leading ladies, it’s a good watch, but there’s a lot of common sense that doesn’t make an appearance. Maybe this movie was made for the fans of the book, but a majority of those who will see this will just get a well-acted messy film.
My honest rating for THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN: 3/5