If you’re hesitant to see “The Girl on the Train” because you fear that it will be too much like “Gone Girl,” you’re on to something. The twists, turns, storyline, and general atmosphere are so reminiscent of the 2014 film that they could almost seamlessly blend together into one (my loyal readers will remember my thoughts on “Gone Girl”: it made my Worst of the Year list).
Divorced alcoholic Rachel (Emily Blunt) was fired from her office job a year ago, but she still makes her daily commute via train every single day. As Rachel stares out the moving window, she begins to notice an alluring couple living a few doors down from her old house. After passing the same view every day, she begins to create names and stories in her head. When the woman of the house (Haley Bennett) goes missing, Rachel gets involved in a ridiculous story of intrigue, deception and murder.
The film is poorly written, with crummy dialogue and ludicrous plot twists that leave gaping holes in the story. There’s not even some profound theme at play either, this is a by-the-numbers thriller with too many plot gaps and unanswered questions. The silly, manufactured drama feels as though it’s geared solely to the same lonely hearts who sit around reading Nicholas Sparks books but long for some excitement in their mundane suburban existence. The characters themselves all hate their upper middle class lives and their fancy sports cars and their lovely homes. I didn’t like any of these whiny, unpleasant characters. I found all of them unlikable and grossly uninteresting.
The dreary, flat cinematography amplifies the film’s sluggish pacing and may very well aid in putting some viewers to sleep. The laughable acting from the supporting cast, including Justin Theroux as total scoundrel Tom, Rebecca Ferguson as his new wife Anna, and Luke Evans as a suspicious, abusive husband, plays like a Lifetime made-for-tv movie. Blunt is far and away the best thing here, but even she can’t carry this mediocre movie. Such a shame that her talent is squandered in this mess.
“The Girl on the Train” is a thriller that’s far from thrilling. I left the theater asking myself: “Where was the tension? Where was the suspense?”
Everything about the marketing for “The Girl on the Train” made it seem like a “Gone Girl” rip-off. A hot beach read turned suspenseful thriller, released in October, with what you know will be a big twist coming towards the end. After seeing the movie, I can tell you that’s exactly what it is. The biggest difference between “Train” and “Gone Girl” is that the lead in “Train,” Emily Blunt, is amazingly good at carrying a film that is not.
The story in “The Girl on the Train” is not exactly compelling stuff. Rachel (Blunt) is a worker whose daily train commute always takes her past a house whose residents (an apparently passionate couple, played by Haley Bennett and Luke Evans) fascinate her. Somehow, Rachel’s obsession with the couple turns into action, where she entangles herself in the couple’s lives. When the woman disappears, Rachel (whose behavior is becoming increasingly erratic) is one of the primary suspects.
There are two primary problems with this “Train.” First, it moves a little too slowly. The revelations about Rachel, the couple, and another neighboring family, are dripped out, one by one, at a pace that becomes frustrating. Second and more importantly, in Rachel the film has constructed a protagonist that is fundamentally unlikable. That’s not Blunt’s fault; I think you’re not supposed to like her. But at the same time, she’s not so unlikable that you hate her. This is a tricky line to walk in story construction: you need audience investment in the main characters. You need people to feel strongly about them in one way or another. When the moviegoer’s primary emotion is one of indifference, it’s hard to create momentum or draw a compelling narrative.
If you’re looking for a mildly entertaining weeknight watch and have no better options, I suppose “The Girl on the Train” might suffice. But it’s certainly not a movie you should seek out.