THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Director: Tate Taylor (The Help) Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans Verdict: A perp on the turps? Or covering her tracks with a loco motive?
SEEING is believing. Unless you are a high-functioning, high-volume alcoholic like Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt). Then believing anything you see is fraught with danger.
In her few sober moments, Rachel must come to grips with one unavoidable fact. She is now both a prime suspect and key witness in a missing persons affair that could soon become a murder case.
Since its publication in January 2015, unknown British author Paula Hawkins’ seat-squirming page-turner of a novel The Girl on the Train has become a global phenomenon.
The book’s catchy combo of sex, murder and shifting suspicions immediately placed it on a parallel plane to Gone Girl, which similarly held the whole world to heavybreathing ransom earlier this decade.
Though the impact of The Girl on the Train’s screen adaptation won’t prove to be as explosive as that of Gone Girl, newcomers getting their first taste of this torrid tale will have themselves a blast.
Those who hold the book near and dear will take a little longer to feel and fall for the movie’s reckless rumble. And not just because Hollywood has switched the setting from suburban London to the outskirts of New York City.
Instead of a tale a reader had to piece together from a collection of unreliable witnesses, the movie settles primarily for the woozy pointof-view of Rachel.
What little our half-cut heroine knows of the world these days is glanced through a train window along her regular daily commute. There is one stretch of the line that Rachel knows like the back of her unsteady hand.
On the right day, she can get a clear view of her former husband (Justin Theroux), his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) and their attractive, sexdriven neighbour (Haley Bennett).
For the first two acts of The Girl on the Train, the contrasts identified between what Rachel thinks she sees and what others hold to be the truth are sounded out with all the subtlety of a jackhammer in a library. It is all in the interest of having us believe Rachel is always on the sauce, and therefore completely off her rocker.
If the movie waits too long to play the obligatory “or is she?” card, it is certainly not the fault of Blunt, who masterfully pours herself into her soaked and sorrowful character.
Blunt (along with Bennett to a lesser extent) registers strongly enough as Rachel to have us overlooking the movie’s considerable weaknesses (not the least of which is a hammy handling of the tale’s final big reveal).