Okay, “The Girl on the Train” is NOT another “Gone Girl.” If viewers are able to keep that in mind watching this ridiculous thriller, they should be able to enjoy it for what it is.
Emily Blunt plays Rachel, a broken alcoholic divorcee. She constantly harasses her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and Tom’s new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). As an escape from her misery, Rachel spies on an attractive neighbor Megan (Hailey Bennett) and fantasizes about Megan’s seemingly perfect life. Her outlet is broken when Megan goes missing and all fingers are pointed at Rachel, who seeks the truth behind Megan’s disappearance.
“The Girl on the Train’s” greatest aspects include one of Emily Blunt’s finest performances of her career, brilliant uses of an unreliable narrator, and some disturbingly provocative commentary on toxic relationships. It also has an unbalanced tone, making it an odd balance of neo-noir and Lifetime melodrama.
Starting with the good, Blunt’s portrayal of Rachel is raw and heartbreaking. We want her to find redemption and get her act together, so we’re endorsed in her story. Theroux and Ferguson both provide solid performances as Rachel’s “nice guy” ex-husband and the new wife, who has more depth.
The unreliable narrator is mashed in with drunken flashbacks, providing a unique spin on the trope. The pacing and tone don’t always compliment the mystery and twists, which is the film’s downfall.
Every major subplot involves characters sleeping with each other, revelations about pregnancies, and exposition regarding relationships. Laura Prepon (“That 70’s Show”, “Orange is the New Black”), an underrated and talented actress, is sadly used as an exposition tool.
I was also mildly disappointed that for a film with predominantly female cast, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. Every conversation between two female characters revolves around one of the male characters, so that was frustrating at times.
The movie picks up in the final act once we get back to the main mystery, so its strong points are an engaging first act and a thrilling third act. The second act is the film’s weak link.
I accepted “The Girl on the Train” was just an entertaining soap opera with great twists and one Oscar-worthy performance.It’s worth seeing if you’re on a date, but otherwise, wait until it’s on DVD or Lifetime.