The Girl on the Train, a new film out this week, is a roller-coaster of a psychological thriller based on the best-selling 2015 book with the same name by Paula Hawkins.
The action moves from England in the book to the East Coast of America and the story is told from the perspective of three main female characters: Rachel, Megan and Anna, whose lives are all entwined with the same man.
Rachel, played by Emily Blunt, is a bitter, jilted woman who appears to have turned to alcohol to drown her sorrows and travels from the suburbs into New York by train every day. Each day, she gets a glimpse into the life of a couple (Megan and Scott) who live in a big house just two doors away from where Rachel used to live with her husband Tom (Justin Theroux). Appearances seem to indicate this couple are living the romantic dream.
This is where is gets a bit preposterous as this beautiful couple just happen to be canoodling outside around a brazier in their garden, or embracing on their balcony, or having sex in the kitchen in full view of all the train passengers. Very convenient.
Seen through flashbacks and the present day, we are shown how Emily has messed up her life and lost her husband due to her alcoholic behaviour. She is now crashing with a friend, and he is in their house living a new life with a perfect wife (Anna) and baby. Emily drinks so much she sometimes doesn’t remember what she has done in her alcoholic haze. I’m not sure why it is called ‘The girl on the Train’ as there is nothing girly about her. I guess the woman on the train wouldn’t have the same pull.
Think ‘Rear Window’ crossed with ‘The Morning After’ and you get the gist. At first Rachel seems to be a pathetic, needy woman and it is hard to feel any empathy for her. You get the feeling all her problems are self-inflicted. Then as the film unfolds and we see into the lives of the couple, she has been voyeuristically spied on.
Emily Blunt is brilliant as the hard, done-by Rachel. She plays the dishevelled, dehydrated alcoholic to a tee. She was pregnant while making the film, maybe that helped her look exhausted. In the first half-hour I desperately wanted to give her some lip salve for her dry, parched lips and tell her to pull herself together.
Considering the action is portrayed from the perspective of the three women in turn and flashes back in time, interleaved with the present day, the director (Tate Taylor) made the plot very easy to follow and does not leave you dazed and confused like some other psychological thrillers. I was gripped from early on in the film as the story unfolded.
When things take a sinister turn and Rachel cannot remember her actions, we have a murder mystery thrown into the plot and it wasn’t at all obvious to me how it would end. The twist in the plot is unpredictable and shocking, but very satisfying; no loose ends and everyone gets their just desserts.