Review

Wow, look at that, Tate Taylor got off the s***list! I’ll be damned; didn’t see that one coming. I mean, this wasn’t great, and despite Taylor’s vast improvement over his previous films, there’s still quite a few directorial and editing decision that annoy and drive me crazy,  but, yeah, I enjoyed ‘The Girl on the Train‘. Quite a lot actually, which surprised me a bit, ‘cause from what I gathered, the film was not particularly well-received overall.  Even the ones who seem to be praising it, seems to be looking at the piece more as good entertainment as opposed to a good movie. Some credit the fact that the original book wasn’t particularly strong to begin with; I wouldn’t know, I haven’t read it, although I suspect it’s a good adaptation. And sure, it’s probably not great material, but I’m not sure I get the arguments against it either.

So, the title girl is Rachel (Emily Blunt), and she takes the train along the coast everyday and stares into the houses of those who live along the tracks. I’ll admit to partly rolling my eyes and having a ‘Picnic’ flashback at that, but we’ll go with it. (I don’t know how controversial this opinion is, but ‘Picnic’ is an awful movie.) Anyway, there’s several elements at play here and trying to describe them all is gonna be a chore, but here we go, Rachel is a trainwreck drunk, who’s partially still obsessed with her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) who lives in one of the houses now with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), and their new baby. She’s also focused in on Megan and Scott (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans) a house that’s a couple doors down.

the girl on the train

Image via Universal Pictures

Now, ‘The Girl on the Train‘, sorta devolves into traditional thriller, which I didn’t object to as much as others seem to have, because of the tone and the structure. It’s a mess structure, but the structure begins with revolving perspectives between these three women, and it’s not just perspectives, it’s also jumping around through time a bit. There’s monologues that we hear from them, that in hindsight aren’t particularly relevant or important, but I thought they gave us a reason to care, when suddenly, one of them goes missing, and Rachel, claims to have witnessed something disturbing, from the train, beforehand, however, because of her own actions and behavior, she also is suspect number one and she sure seems like it. When we meet her, she’s been sleeping on a friend’s, Cathy’s (Laura Prepon) couch for a year, and she’s been unemployed despite, supposedly going to work everyday. However, she’s also an untrustworthy narrator, not just to us, but to herself, partially because of the blackouts she has had, and partially for another reason that I won’t explain.

There’s also a psychiatrist character, Dr. Kamal (Edgar Ramirez) who’s involved because the missing girl was going to her, and they may or may not have been having an affair when she went missing. Either way, Rachel is insisting on butting in and finding out as much as she can, convinced something is amiss, and that may include the possibility that, she might have done something wrong herself. I will say that I think some of the casting for this film was questionable, there’s one too many television stars in this movie, and it’s a bit distracting. There’s movie stars in it too, sure, but this might have done better if say, the Lisa Kudrow cameo was probably played by somebody like Kathy Bates instead.

the girl on the train

Image via Universal Pictures

I think what wins it over for me is the structure. I have to imagine that ‘The Girl on the Train‘ was a film that was a close adaptation of the novel, mostly in order to get the tone of the book correct. If this was, done in a more straightforward manner, the mystery aspect wouldn’t be compelling, it might even be downright predictable, but ‘The Girl on the Train‘, is a tonal mood piece disguised as a mystery. A movie about the characters’ emotional states, and our search for why they’re in those states. As to the mystery, I didn’t see the ending coming. I”m not surprised by it, and sure, I’m annoyed and disappointed at how trivial and simple it really is. But…- without giving it away, I know some are comparing this to ‘Gone Girl‘, ehhhh, I know the movie I’m thinking about comparing it too, but I won’t mention ’cause it would be a huge clue to the movie’s ending, so let’s just say that Emily Blunt’s character seemed to me to be a plausible version of a famous Ingrid Bergman played-character….. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one, although the fact that not saying the title, should be a bit of a “light” clue…..

Anyway, it’s because of this confusing mess of emotional instability within the story, that the lack of the whodunit, doesn’t bother me. It’s never about the “Whodunit” when it comes to whodunits remembers, it’s the journey of the investigation, and for me, I was entertained and intrigued. Tate Taylor’s finally found a genre where this kind of meandering actually works, ’cause I’ve hated his previous two films, ‘The Help‘ and ‘Get On Up‘, both easily could’ve or should’ve made my Worst of the Year List, despite ‘The Help‘ at least getting some critical, commercial and awards acclaim. But you know, the way he insisted on gliding through from one character to another in that film, it doesn’t work in that film, at all, but as apart of an overall mystery but in the mind and in the plot, I think it actually kinda works in ‘The Girl on the Train‘.

I’m David Baruffi, and as always, I get the last word.

the girl on the train

Image via Universal Pictures



About the Author

David Baruffi
David Baruffi
David Baruffi has been a successful unemployed screenwriter for, let's be vague and call it "years". He's got a B.A. in Film Studies from UNLV, is a certified script supervisor and has done a little bit of everything in film, but mostly is a writer. Personally on his own blog "David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews" which is at www.davidbaruffi.blogspot.com,and professionally has written several scripts and stories, for himself, and for others and as a ghostwriter. When he's not doing that he watches his autistic brother most days and he looks like two old puppets.