R | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle
*In theaters October 7th 2016 *
Synopsis: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.
Review: Fans of the Paula Hawkins's novel THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN have been excited for its theatrical release. Gone Girl started this trend of dark sexy mysteries and you can only assume this one hoped to keep the momentum going. But sadly it derails in a heap of vague motives and misunderstood character arcs. You won't hate it but you won't really like it either. You may wish to have your own drunken blackout so you can forget it all together.
Rachel (Emily Blunt) rides the train back and forth to work each day. She sits in the same place and watches the same landscape go by. As luck, or karma, would have it she has to pass the house she used to live in with her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux). This was before he got a new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) and started a family; in the same house. She could sit on the other side of the train and not have to inflict such horrible pain on herself but then we wouldn't have a story. She also keeps an eye on the house a few doors down where loving couple Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett) live. Rachel is fixated on Tom and his new family and can't seem to move on. She shows up unannounced and has started freaking them out. Still she watches the house day after day from the train. When Megan goes missing though Rachel might be the one person who has seen the only clue. But who is gonna believe her?
I am sure the book was fantastic and the movie may encourage many to go back and read it. Those who have read the book may glean more from the movie as well. Those who go in with nothing will leave with even less. Other than a first rate performance from Blunt there is little in this film to engage with or enjoy. It is a repetitious journey with ups and downs that never connect. The book allowed you to enter Rachel's mind and live in her thoughts; something a movie can never replicate. Same with the supporting characters. Without knowing what they are thinking the actions make little sense.
Also the film tries too hard to be a sexy thriller. The nudity and sex appears more as an afterthought than a point of interest. It loses the natural organic nature and becomes gratuitous and, well, non-sexy. Megan is a complex character but they cheapen her with some of the more promiscuous personality traits and actions. If we knew more about the why (more than what we are given here for sure) maybe it would make better sense. But without a deeper back story she becomes a shallow hull. sad because you need her to be more.
There is no doubt that director Tate Taylor was in over his head and got lost in the subject matter. Luckily Emily Blunt is a strong enough actress to overcome this and delivers a powerful performance. Hers is the only reason to consider watching. Rachel has to function in a haze of chemical emotion and Blunt does it brilliantly.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity, It is obviously an adult film. The language and certain scenes might even be a bit much for first dates and awkward mixed company. I give it 2 out of 5 missed opportunities. Pretty disappointing.