THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Directed by Tate Taylor
Starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux
If you think you're watching a reboot or sequel to David Fincher's Gone Girl, you're not alone. The screen adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train, is a stylistic copy of Fincher's 2014 box office hit. It's as if director Tate Taylor painstakingly watched Gone Girl on repeat until he could completely mimic every filmmaking choice. Copycatting aside, Taylor's rendition of the twist-filled love triangle trope is mostly effective, highlighted by a brilliant and subtle performance from the film's star Emily Blunt.
Rachel (Blunt) is a struggling divorcee, still attached to her ex-husband (Justin Theroux). Spending her train rides into the city staring at the home she used to share, Rachel soon becomes infatuated with the young blonde living next door. Seeing small glimpses of their lives each from the window of the train, Rachel's own disparaging mental state, influenced by her reliance on alcohol, opens the door to a downward spiral so crazy that it's hard to believe she'll recuperate.
Once that young blonde goes missing, Rachel inserts herself where she doesn't belong, insisting she's only trying to help. What follows is a crazed mix of cat-and-mouse antics and plenty of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat (granted, if you haven't previously read the book).
Blunt really is the magic here, giving Rachel a sort-of hard-pressed honesty that has you judging her, but rooting for her, all at the same time. Haley Bennett shines as the beautiful and young neighbor, a sort-of ingenue who is strikingly interesting, but mysterious. A tattered soul, her beauty only barely masks her deteriorating mental state. Rebecca Ferguson, playing Rachel's ex-husband's new wife, is another great role that, at first, seems to fill all of the womanly stereotypes found in film characters, but the film's inevitable twists give her more on which to chew.
A film that could foster preconceived, crazed woman notions, The Girl on the Train is, in turn, a celebration of stamina of the human spirit, both in regards to determination and revenge. It's easy, in darker films especially, for certain archetypes to get the jolt of the attention.
The Girl on the Train isn't the type of movie to completely live up to its potential. But, it's not bad either. It sits somewhere in between. It'd be interesting to see what a director could have done if they decided to go in a completely different stylistic direction. Either way, Blunt's performance is enough to, hopefully, garner some awards attention. And, Bennett is definitely on the cusp of stardom.
Runtime: 112 minutes