The Girl On The Train tells the tale of Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) in her life after divorcing her now ex-husband. Each day, she takes the train to New York City, where she works. And on each of these commutes, she passes her old house where her ex-husband lives with his new wife and child. In an attempt to forget about her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses away from her old one. In this house lives Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans). She constructs a make-believe fantasy life for them in her mind, about how they are the ideal and perfect family.
But randomly one day, as the train goes by the house, she sees something surprising, that makes her angry. The following day, she wakes up from her sleep with the hangover to end all hangovers with the feeling that she did something bad but she can’t remember what. The TV reports arrive in great numbers saying Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel dives head first in the case and tries to find out what happened to Megan. Where is Megan? But more importantly, what did Rachel do on the night that Megan went missing?
Emily Blunt (Young Victoria) is excellent in her role. She is in a very complex, something different than what she’s used to, and what audiences have seen her do before. She’s phenomenal; broken, conflicted, vulnerable and passionate. This is a role that required a lot from the English actress, but she nailed it. Her role, like many, is morally ambiguous. Direction from Tate Taylor (The Help) has to be commended because he never allows us to sympathise with any characters, even our protagonist Rachel (Blunt). The nature of her character makes it hard to like her. When it comes down to it, she’s the lesser of many evils throughout the film.
I really liked Haley Bennett’s performance as Megan. She’s not just a pretty face and she really excels in her role. As her arc continues, she is really able to embody herself in her role and control the overall look of her character and manipulate our opinions of her. She is sly, devious and not one to be trusted. Behind the pretty face lies a devious and devilish personality that would fool nine out of ten men. She gives the character real grit and an aura that would send chills down your spin. Tate Taylor’s direction is mostly sound. It wobbles in places, but what got me was his depiction and representation of domestic violence. We are witness to an ending that will force many to tears that shows domestic violence in a horrific and brutal manner that will make most audience members wince.
The good parts of the movie are not just the leading roles and themes, but also the supporting performances too. Also, we are accompanied by Luke Evans (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) and Allison Janney (Tallulah). Evans plays Megan’s husband with a similar darkly alluring persona. Janney has a knack for playing police roles and she is good it at, playing Detective Riley with a bold and authoritative stance. Every line delivered from makes the whole room go silent . Her performance is dignified, controlled and downright excellent.
The Girl On The Train is a slow burn and it takes some time to really get into the story. Once it does, it comes into its own. The first act is shaky but finds its feet towards the end but the second half is great. This isn’t a movie for people who are squeamish. There are parts that will make you go “oh shit” and other parts that will make you want to leave the cinema. In essence, it’s a ideological assault in the way it shows domestic abuse. It shows us it in all its horror and how traumatic it can be. That is shown from a victims’ standpoint but also from the perpetrator, Tom, played by Justin Theroux. And it shows that often, guilty parties aren’t easy to spot. They’re psychopaths and murderers with smiles.
The Girl On The Train is a dark mystery thriller grounded by an excellent performance by Emily Blunt, good directing and a musical score (Danny Elfman) that goes bump in the woods.