Certificate 15, 112 minutes
Director: Tate Taylor
Stars: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson
The Girl on the Train is based on the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. It opens with a woman, Rachel (Emily Blunt), on a train. She takes this train to and from Manhattan twice a day, and it passes by what she says is her favourite house. She sees a man and a woman living there and sees their relationship as perfect, although Rachel doesn't personally know them. She fantasizes about what they do, who they are and what their names are, making sketches in a notebook as she does.
Rachel actually used to live in the house two doors up from the one where her perfect couple live, a house in which a woman with a baby now lives. Rachel seems very sad, not enjoying her life, and she clearly drinks a lot; it's revealed that she is an out and out alcoholic.
Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Girl_on_The_Train.jpgThe perspective then switches to six months prior to current events. The woman from the first house, Megan (Haley Bennett, Hardcore Henry), is now talking. She isn't anywhere near as happy as Rachel thinks, and she's discussing her life with a therapist Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramírez). She and her husband, Scott (Luke Evans), do not have the perfect marriage that Rachel believes they do. Scott wants a child, but Megan doesn't, and this is causing tension. According to Megan, over the course of their sessions, Scott can actually be quite aggressive. Megan is working as a nanny for the woman who lives in Rachel's old house, and she apparently hates being around the baby. Throughout the film there are more clips from Megan's sessions and meetings with her therapist, gradually coming closer to the present. Megan also seems more than a little confused about what she actually wants with her life.
Then it comes to the present again, and the perspective changes again, this time to the woman who Megan is working, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson, Hercules, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation). Anna is doing more than live in Rachel's old house; she's also married to her former husband, Tom (Justin Theroux). Megan is quitting her job as a nanny, because she's just got a new job with an art gallery. Rachel has been hassling her ex-husband and his current wife, constantly ringing and sending Tom text messages. Rachel's marriage with Tom started to break down after IVF failed, and they were unable to have a baby. She started drinking more and more, and getting violent, but she could never remember what she had done in the morning. Finally, she found out that Tom was having an affair with Anna. Rachel is now living with a friend.
This first bit of the film, where it swaps between Rachel, Megan and finally Anna, is basically to just introduce the three main female characters. This is done to a lesser extent through the rest of the film, but Rachel is a primary focus from here.
Then one day Rachel, whilst on the train, sees Megan outside her house, kissing someone who, to the audience, would appear to be her therapist. At this Rachel kind of loses it. Having been cheated on herself, someone else doing it drives her crazy. Not long afterwards, whilst Rachel is more than a little drunk, she sees a blonde haired woman go into a tunnel. She follows, yelling "Whore!" and then everything goes black. When Rachel wakes up the next day, she is bloody and injured, but she cannot remember what actually happened.
Rachel comes home to her friend's house to find two detectives waiting for her, wanting to question her about Megan, who has gone missing. Rachel had been seen in the area the night that Megan disappeared, but Rachel truly can't remember what happened. She had fantasised about killing someone, but she has no idea if she actually did it. Rachel does start interfering in the murder investigation, speaking to Scott about what she saw on the train, as finally she has found something to keep her interest, although not enough to keep her from drinking, even though she is attending meetings for her addiction.
Her behaviour, given that she was seen in the neighbourhood and has a history of hassling her ex and his wife, make her one of the primary suspects in the disappearance of Megan. Rachel's lack of memory about what actually happened doesn't help her either. The audience is left uncertain as to whether or not she was involved, as even Rachel isn't sure whether or not she had anything to do with Megan's disappearance; in fact, she is at least halfway convinced she may have done something bad during her blackout. She has flashbacks, but whether these are genuine or connected to a fantasy she can't tell. There are other suspects too, but who is actually behind the disappearance isn't clear.
The film is very, very sluggish with by and large nothing really happening, even character development, for a long, long time. This pacing may work in the book, but not so much in the film. It isn't until it gets closer to the end, and Megan's meetings with her therapist get closer to the day she went missing, that things start to pick up. Finally, the plot strands start coming together, although perhaps in a way that is a bit too predictable, even the twists. The three woman are the central part of the cast, but the audience never really learns much about them. Rachel is an alcoholic, Anna is the woman on the side who became the new wife (and it tends to be pointed out in real life that a man who cheats to be with you is not one to be trusted) and Megan is both unsure of herself and doesn't seem to have a very high level of self worth. More could have been developed about these characters; Rachel in particular is a bit too stereotypical for much of the film, unable to move on with her life - perhaps with good reason.
There are definite flaws in the film, perhaps ones that weren't in the original novel. Overall, it is much too sluggish; it is too easy to get bored waiting for something to happen before it actually does. The characters, despite their portrayals, aren't really compelling as characters. The Girl on the Train is an okay thriller, but it may not have done the novel justice.