The Girl on the Train

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I had heard about The Girl on the Train, a novel written by Paula Hawkins, but never bought the book.  People said it was similar to Gone Girl, but for some reason, I never gave it a second look.  So when the previews for the movie based on the book came along, I was surprised to discover that I wanted to see this film.  Learning more about the story, I decided I had to see it this weekend.

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) rides the train from Westchester to New York City every day.  As she passes through Ardsley on the Hudson, she thinks about the life of a young couple and the home she sees from the train.  To her, this beautiful woman and her sexy husband have the perfect life…the life she could never have.  One day, she sees this young woman on the porch of her home kissing another man and it sends her into a tailspin.

We learn that Rachel once lived on the same street as Megan and Scott Hipwell (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans).  In fact, she lived two doors down with husband Tom Watson (Justin Theroux) until her drinking drove him into the arms of their real estate agent Anna Boyd (Rebecca Ferguson).  We realize that Rachel is an alcoholic who is stalking her ex-husband, his new wife and their baby.  She is also an alcoholic who experiences some serious blackouts.

So when a soused Rachel gets off the train in Ardsley on the Hudson, intent on speaking with Megan Hipwell about her adultery, we’re not overly surprised.  After all, Rachel lost her husband and the perfect life she thought they shared to an affair.  But when Rachel next awakens, she is covered in blood.  And when Megan goes missing, is it any wonder that Rachel would be a prime suspect?  Even Rachel starts to wonder what she might be capable of during one of her blackouts…but what did she do?

The Girl on the Train is the ultimate thriller.  I agree with the people who told me that this story is a lot like Gone Girl in this aspect – the twists and turns just keep on coming.  The fact that the main character – the one through whose eyes we experience this story – is an alcoholic who can’t remember certain events in her life makes the story that much more blurred, that harder to figure out.  That’s also what contributes to what makes the film so great – the fact that we have trouble deciding whether Rachel was involved with any foul play and, if not, where did the blood come from? 

Figuring out the fuzzy puzzle that is Rachel’s alcoholic life is what makes this such an intriguing thriller.  If Emily Blunt doesn’t get some kind of Oscar nod for this film, I would be very surprised.  She plays the role of Rachel perfectly, making viewers span the spectrum when it comes to deciding who she really is.  I heard folks in the audience say, “This chick is crazy.”  Others said, “What did she do?”  Still more said, “Oh no she didn’t!”  People really got into Blunt’s performance as Rachel.  Some really wanted to know if the character was capable of harm towards others, while others thought she was just a sad woman whose life revolved around one man and a bottle. 

An excellent performance also came from Haley Bennett, whose character Megan is seen through a series of flashback scenes with her therapist (Edgar Ramirez).  Just when we figure this woman is a self-centered, nymphomaniac and compulsive liar, we learn something about this character that sheds life on who she is and why she acts the way she does.  It also hints at what happened to her, though most won’t pick up on that until later.

That brings me to the amazing ending of this film.  Even I, someone who can usually figure out mysteries long before the end of the film, didn’t figure this one out until the final half hour or so.  The twists and turns of the storyline, coupled with Rachel’s fuzzy, alcohol-induced observations, made it difficult to solve the mystery.  Solve it, I did, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for what would happen at the end of the film – this judging from the shocked exclamations from the rapt audience who all seemed surprised, but incredibly pleased with the ending of the film. 

I did not pass one patron who hadn’t enjoyed the movie.  The Girl on the Train has an incredible storyline, filled with twists and turns that make it fun for viewers when trying to figure out who dunnit and just what might have been done.  The acting was spot-on believable, down to the actions of the lead detective on the case (Allison Janney).  Some critics have also called the story ponderous and too lengthy, but those same critics didn’t have a problem with the lengthy circuitous plot of Gone Girl, so bah to them.  Fact is, The Girl on the Train is the perfect film for any fan of psychological thrillers and I would be happy to watch this movie again, just to see what clues I missed – a sure sign that The Girl on the Train is a must see.


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