film review

Review | The Girl on the Train – 2016

Rachel seemed to have a good life. She was married to Tom, had a nice job and a beautiful home. The only thing she missed in her marriage was a baby. But unfortunately Rachel didn’t get pregnant which made her very sad. She started to drink and Tom started an affair. Tom’s affair became an actual relationship and now Rachel is a divorced woman, who lives with her friend. Everyday she travels by train and observes all the houses which passes by, including her old house, where Tom’s new wife and their baby live. In the same street she watches a couple who seem to have the perfect life. When the woman goes missing, Rachel ends up in a mysterious roller coaster and starts her own investigation to find out the truth.

The Girl in the Train is based on the novel written by Paul Hawkins. The film is directed by Tate Taylor, who’s know from drama film The Help. The mysterious drama focuses on the lives of three different woman, played by Emily Blunt, Hayley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson. Blunt plays the role of Rachel very well, who has a very rough time after her break-up with Tom. She’s  forced to live with her friend and travels every day by train, and while on the train she is faced with the life that she has lost. During the film we get to know more about Rachel: why she started drinking and why she and Tom decided to divorce. During her travels she projects her fantasies on the person she watches. 

the-girl-on-the-train
© Universal Studios

Hayley Bennet plays Megan, the woman who has – according to Rachel – the perfect life. When the film switched to Megan’s point of view we learn it’s quite the opposite. the film also switches to the life of Anna, Tom’s new wife and mother of his child. Rachel observes also Anna’s life, but when we (the viewers) get to see things through Anna’s eyes, we also learn Anna isn’t that happy. Because of Anna you get a different view on Rachel’s character, who causes a lot of stir in the new family. Anna got a lot on her plate when her nanny Megan bails on her. Megan doesn’t feel babysitting is her dreamjob. A critical note is that besides Blunt’s character, the other two women are quite flat. Which is a shame since their characters have been trough a lot, but the effects are not shown very clearly.

The four smaller roles are played by Luke Evans, Justin Theroux, Edgar Ramirez and Allison Janney. Respectively they play the parts of Scott – Megan’s husband – , Tom, Megan’s therapist Kamal, and detective Riley. Unfortunately, also these parts stay too flat and almost no impression. Only Evans tries to make something out of his role. Evans as Megan’s husband desperately wants his wife to return home safely. Theroux’ character is quite mysterious, but it’s only near the end when you realize that. The rest of the film his character is quite dull. Ramirez plays the role of the very calm therapist, but also he seems a bit dull and even loser-ish. But that shouldn’t be the case, since he has a great effect on the story and knows two of the most important women in the film. A minuscule role is played by Lisa Kudrow. And although she plays in only two small scenes, her part is very important for the continuation of Rachel. When Rachel sees her old friend Martha again, a lot of things become clear to her.

The film consists of two parts: the part where the viewer gets to know the three women and where see a drunken Rachel who looks upon the lives of Megan and Anna. The other part begins when Megan goes missing. Rachel has her own ideas about the case and decides to help Scott is in his quest. This also means that she comes close to her ex Tom and his new family. This part is also the moment when the film finally becomes more mysterious. For example, what is the connection between the three women and what did actually happen between Rachel and Tom? Because of the flashbacks the characters Rachel and Megan are getting more depth, but it’s Emily Blunt as Rachel who really steals the show.

The good work regarding the lighting makes the movie extra mysterious. The sky is gray and we never see the sun shine, or even a glimpse of the sun. Sometimes the film feels a bit similar to another mysterious book adaptation: Gone Girl. However, that film was significantly better in the embodiment of the characters and the mystery. The film is nearly two hours long, but feels much longer because of the slow pace. Because of that the film is sometimes a bit boring, and nothing of a great interest is happening. On the other hand though, you’ll keep looking because you do want to know how the story ends.

The Girl on the Train might be a disappointment for those who have read the book. The characters stay too flat, which is a shame. Because of what they have been through, they had much more potential to give a proper impression. The genre of the film is thriller and mystery, but it never gets that thrilling. And the film becomes mysterious only halfway through the film, because that is the moment when the lead character makes some discoveries. The film feels much longer that its two-hour run-time, and is sometimes a bit boring as well. Fortunately the director had Emily Blunt who did an amazing job as Rachel, the only character who provides a memorable impression.

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