The Girl on the Train is a long, slowly unwinding jack-in-the-box that isn’t very surprising in the end.
Emily Blunt is the titular girl, Rachel, on the train, and she is a recovering alcoholic spying on her ex-husband (Justin Theroux) and his new life from the train, which conveniently runs right behind his house. She also spies on the couple living next door to her ex-husband, and this voyeuristic obsession consumes her life as she spies on them every day.
Meanwhile, the woman next door (Haley Bennett) seems to have everything going for her, a life that Rachel perhaps could have had if her alcoholism had not ruined her marriage. Rachel longs for anyone’s life other than her own, and she intimately follows what seems like happy lives, so when the woman next door goes missing Rachel wastes no time getting involved.
Unfortunately, Rachel is very unwelcome at her ex-husband’s house on account of an incident in which Rachel broke in to his house and almost kidnapped his daughter, but it doesn’t stop her personal commitment to uncovering the truth. So she takes matters into her own hands—which naturally upsets nearly everyone around her.
The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller with many plot twists and rising-action turns, so the script meanders like a train track itself. Sadly, it is a long track, with the film clocking at just under two hours. The acting is good all around, and the main characters have depth, but their bookish motivations and inner struggles have not been adapted to film as well as the train imagery of the story.
Accordingly, the cinematography is compelling, with picturesque shots of the train tracks running parallel with the ocean. The lighting contributes by utilizing natural light, which offers an aesthetic articulation of the film’s mood.
The film leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the symbolism of the train, however, and the themes in general are underplayed. Very few aspects of this film are memorable.
Contemptor grade: 5