I love a good twisty-turny thriller. Last year’s Gone Girl was that type of movie. If you haven’t seen it yet – check it out.
This year’s offering of a thriller based on a book is The Girl on the Train. I have not read the book, so I would welcome anyone who has letting me know if this movie is an accurate translation. The movie starts with a voice over from Rachel as she is a Girl On A Train – she is musing about a couple that she sees from the train everyday as she takes it from upstate New York in to the city to ‘work’. They seem to be so in love, and she is looking at that enviously. She’s envious, because she noticed them when she was looking at the house she used to live in. You pretty quickly catch on that she was married to Tom, they used to live down the street from the house that she is very creepily staring at every day. However, they are no longer together, and Tom now lives there with his new wife – Anna - and their new baby. You also catch on pretty quick that Rachel is a big time alcoholic. Big time.
Then we get a voice over from Megan – who is the woman in the house Rachel is stalking. She is talking to her therapist Dr. Abdic, talking about how her husband Scott wants a baby, but she’s not really interested in that, she’s not really even into her nannying job – which, of course, is for Tom and his new wife, Anna down the street. She quits the job, getting a bit of an attitude with Anna, telling her she doesn’t really need a nanny, and could be doing it all herself, since she doesn’t seem to be working. Megan has been offered a job working at a gallery, which is what she wants to be doing. Through more therapist’s sessions, we learn that she ran away with her boyfriend many years ago after the death of her brother, and they had a baby that she lost, so she is essentially wandering through life struggling to make real connections.
Rachel’s roommate Cathy is trying to get Rachel to sober up – and stop calling Tom and hanging up. One day as Rachel is on the train, she sees Megan on her balcony with another man – not her husband - and having been scarred by her husband cheating on her, and being drunk – she completely freaks out about that, gets off the train, spots Megan, and chases her down a tunnel, gets knocked out, and doesn’t really remember what happens next. She wakes up back at her place, with a bloody head – and no recollection of the night before. The reset of the movie is basically Rachel attempting to unravel what happened, figure out what happened to Megan (who disappeared that night), shadily befriending Scott, going to see Dr. Abdic, and getting creepy and weird with Anna – but then moving past that.
She looks really guilty up front, but eventually she learns the truth about what happened and the strange interconnections between Rachel, Megan, and Anna.
The movie is not nearly as good as Gone Girl – and that may not be a fair comparison, but that did come out about this time last year, and was also based on a book. It’s not nearly as twisty – you see the ‘big twist’ coming from miles away. I found it to be really slow, and a bit murky and ambling. Directed by Tate Taylor (the Help and Get on UP), it’s so meandering, slow, and predictable, that not even a good cast can save it.
- Emily Blunt plays Rachel – and the reality is that this movie really hangs on her performance of this broken woman. She’s gone through so much, and is struggling to put the pieces back together – while at the same time, not really wanting to get better. Blunt does a really good job, but the character is so unlikeable it made it hard for me to get engaged in the story. I will say that once she shifts from self-pity to anger when she begins to realize the truth, I was far more invested and began to root for her. The problem is, that didn’t really happen until ten minutes before the end.
- Haley Bennett, who was in the Magnificent Seven last month, plays Megan. She is very flighty and disconnected – and does a good job of slowly letting Megan’s backstory show how damaged she is.
- Rebecca Ferguson plays Anna – and while I loved her in the last Mission Impossible, I really hated her here. I suppose that means she did a good job? Anna should really be a sympathetic victim type with her husband’s iffy ex stalking them, but instead she comes off as mean and weak.
- Justin Theroux plays Tom. The role is interesting, and he really could have done more with it, but he’s very understated. Now – that may have been on purpose because of the character – or perhaps is really accurate to the book. Either way, his slow burn is commendable.
- Luke Evans plays Scott. He goes from sad to angry as he tries to find out what happened to Megan. It’s a different role than I have ever seen him do before, and I was impressed by the regularity of it – for lack of a better description. Where I’ve seen him before, he’s been a bit over the top, but here, he’s a little more understated.
- Edgar Ramirez plays Dr. Abdic – it’s a small but important role, and I couldn’t really tell if his was complicit in the situation or if he was just doing his job – poorly doing his job.
- Laura Prepon plays Cathy, the roommate, and has basically nothing to do except for be disappointed in Rachel while also trying to be supportive to her.
- Allison Janney plays the Detective who is after the truth, and seems to lock in on Rachel as a suspect, but then never really gets too aggressive on that. She basically waits around for Rachel to solve the mystery herself. That’s a shame because Janney is capable of so much more than they gave her to do in this movie.
- Lisa Kudrow has another small but important role as the wife of Tom’s ex-boss. It helps push Rachel on her way to solve the case.
Overall, it had potential, but I felt like it fell a bit short. If I hadn’t see the big twist coming from so far away, perhaps it would have been more engaging? And perhaps if I didn’t hate Rachel so much I would have liked it more? She is the lead, and it is definitely her movie, so hating her as a character can really take you out of the movie!
6 out of 10; lost points for being slow and predictable.