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The Girl on the Train Movie Review

The Girl on the Train (2016) movie poster The Girl on the Train

Theatrical Release: October 7, 2016 / Running Time: 112 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Tate Taylor / Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay); Paula Hawkins (novel)

Cast: Emily Blunt (Rachel Watson), Haley Bennett (Megan Hipwell), Rebecca Ferguson (Anna Watson), Justin Theroux (Tom Watson), Luke Evans (Scott Hipwell), Edgar Ramírez (Dr. Kamal Abdic), Laura Prepon (Cathy), Allison Janney (Detective Riley), Darren Goldstein (Man in the Suit), Lisa Kudrow (Martha)


The Girl on the Train seems designed to be the Gone Girl of 2016. Like David Fincher's 2014 hit,
Train adapts a recent bestselling novel and tells a mystery involving a disappearance/murder investigation, infidelity, and picturesque married couples with secret strain. As if those parallels and the use of Girl in the title weren't enough to link them, there is the fact that this one opens on the first full weekend of October just like Gone Girl did two years ago.

Unfortunately, this Girl doesn't have a maestro like Fincher at the helm but Tate Taylor, the competent director of The Help and Get On Up. And instead of Gillian Flynn adapting her own text, we get Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe, Men, Women & Children) translating British novelist Paula Hawkins' 2015 book. Needless to say, the results aren't as dynamite as those of Fincher's film, but Girl on the Train still manages to deliver a compelling psychological ride, at least until its final act frustrates with twists that do not seem to add up at all.

"The Girl on the Train" stars Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson, a woman who imagines lives for the people she spots while riding the Metro-North Railroad.

Emily Blunt stars as Rachel Watson, a woman in PR who takes the Metro-North train from Ardsley to Grand Central and back every day. She spends her ride looking at the houses near the tracks and one in particular that belongs to Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), a pretty young woman who seems to have what Rachel has lost: a happy marriage and passionate love life.

But looks can be deceiving and in this movie, they always are. Megan is quietly miserable, not sharing the desire for children of her husband Scott (Luke Evans) and no longer wanting to be a nanny to the young child of Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and Tom (Justin Theroux). Tom is Rachel's ex-husband, a seemingly perfect guy she evidently drove away with a drinking problem. The problem has only gotten worse as Rachel drinks straight vodka out of her water bottle and still pines for her old house and life.

When Megan goes missing, seemingly all of the other leads is a suspect. That includes her therapist (Édgar Ramírez), who she may have been having an affair with. Rachel doesn't have the best of alibis, having woken up bloodied and with no memory whatsoever from what happened on that Friday night leading to her blackout. Detective Riley (Allison Janney) eyes her suspiciously and with seemingly good reason, based on the way that the film is presented.

Rachel's ex-husband (Justin Theroux) seems to have a perfect marriage with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Also seemingly happy and in love are Scott and Megan Hipwell (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett).

You know a movie like this will have twists you're not supposed to see coming. Indeed, it does. But they're not the kind of twists that stand up to thought or scrutiny. They answer questions and absolve certain parties, but they're not something that you are given any reason to suspect. That leaves the ending feeling like a pulpy cop-out of caricature,
one which undermines the intriguing web the movie has until then been weaving. It's no Gone Girl. But then, very few thrillers are.

At least the film does a decent job of channeling Hitchcock and keeping us interested for its first 90 minutes or so. Blunt is as magnetic as she ever has been, sinking her teeth into a damaged, alcohol-addled protagonist. Her supporting cast is also quite good. This fall, Bennett has emerged as a talent you couldn't foresee from her limited and somewhat lapsed theatrical resume. Ramírez and Evans make a case for you to know them by name, even if the latter is at the center of the film's flimsiest and phoniest scene. Theroux, who until now has been more accomplished as a screenwriter and is perhaps best known for being Jennifer Aniston's husband, does what he can with a challenging role.

It seems clear by now that Taylor is only as good as his source material and, without having read it, I can only assume Hawkins' text is not without some of the same issues as the film. Girl is likely to be more of a commercial success than a critical one, though Blunt is good and overdue enough to expect some awards contention, especially at the Golden Globes who have already nominated her for four film honors in addition to one television win.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: The Birth of a NationVoyage of TimeThe DressmakerThe Magnificent SevenThe Light Between Oceans
Gone GirlComplete Unknown
Emily Blunt: SicarioInto the WoodsEdge of Tomorrow | Haley Bennett: The EqualizerThe Hole | Rebecca Ferguson: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Edgar Ramirez: JoyHands of Stone | Luke Evans: The RavenThe Great Train Robbery | Justin Theroux: Zoolander
Directed by Tate Taylor: The Help | Written by Erin Cressida Wilson: Men, Women & ChildrenChloe

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Reviewed October 5, 2016.

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