AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

The Girl on the Train (2016)

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From a jumbled, seemingly out-of-sync trailer, I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Girl on the Train. I had expected it to be driven through the titular ‘Girl’ on the train, which is Emily Blunt’s Rachel. Instead, it is centralised through three women whose lives are all intertwined.

Rachel commutes daily on the train to Manhattan and it goes by the idealistic Beckett Road. Rachel fantasies about the occupants of 15 Beckett Road, daydreaming that they lead the perfect life inside their home. This creates an incredibly murky picture of the aforementioned Rachel, especially when it pans two doors down and we see Rachel standing there.

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As Rachel catches the story up, she reveals that she used to live in that house with her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) before he was found out cheating on Rachel with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Tom now lives with Anna in that house, with a child. We’re thrust back into reality when a passenger sits next to Rachel with a baby, she slurs compliments at the child, revealing she is in fact, drunk.

Rachel continues to commute to Manhattan and fantasises about Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett) the aforementioned occupant of 15 Beckett Road, as she sees him cuddling with her husband Scott (Luke Evans). Until one morning, she sees Megan on the balcony with another man. This lights a raging fire within Rachel, that cannot be contained. The film then continues on a build-up to an event that sends everything in a downward spiral for the five involved.

That evening Megan goes missing, with Rachel seemingly the prime suspect as she stumbles off the train at the stop close to Megan’s house. She follows her to a tunnel where she witnesses the aforementioned event, which isn’t clear due to her level of intoxication. Rachel subsequently wakes up in the morning with no memory of the night before and blood caked over her face.

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The Girl on the Train does take a while to get going, but it is interesting in the way that it builds up to this event. It tells the story through not just Rachel, but Megan and Anna as well, giving a rounded perspective. It builds up in Gone Girl style with flashbacks of ‘6 months ago’ and ‘3 weeks ago’ etc, which works as it drip feeds the story giving it that mystery element, especially with Megan’s unrevealed past. Tate Taylor cleverly incorporated a ‘fuzzy’ filter over Rachel’s segments of the story to match her intoxication, giving the pictures a distorted feel constantly, which was really effective.

Megan probably has the most intriguing backstory, which is only touched upon briefly but alas, I did not care for her character, nor Anna and Rachel’s. Anna is seemingly hell-bent on painting Rachel as a terrible person and manipulating Tom’s (Who, remember, was Rachel’s ex) perception of her. That’s not to say the three women give great performances, as they were riveting as their respective characters, but I just did not like them, nor connect with them.

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Tate Taylor has incorporated some interesting elements into this film, unfortunately this isn’t enough to carry The Girl on the Train through the 112 minute runtime. The performances are captivating throughout the picture and Emily Blunt does steal the show alongside Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett, and backed up by the supporting cast excellently. Also Tate Taylor’s incorporation of the effects to distort the picture was effective throughout.

However, I left feeling largely disappointed in The Girl on the Train, mainly due to the pretty simplistic storyline that doesn’t offer anything different to the Mystery/Thriller genre that wasn’t already exhibited by Gone Girl, a film of similar nature. As mentioned above, Blunt, Ferguson and Bennett help the film through the 112 minutes with some interesting themes throughout (which I won’t divulge due to plot spoilers) the picture. Quite frankly, the despicable characters, simplistic storyline and the disjointed way the film threads it way through the runtime is quite frustrating and made (for me) a disappointing viewing.

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

2 thoughts on “The Girl on the Train (2016)

  1. I am really looking forward to seeing The Girl On The Train. Although I thought Gone Girl was extremely boring at the beginning and great from when the wife returns, if this is similar it will be worth watching.

    • As I said, it does take a while to get going, but it does start quite interestingly with the captivating performances from Blunt and co!
      Thanks for the comment, by the way!

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