The Girl On the Train: Film Review
Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Alison Janney, Luke Evans, Laura Prepon, Edgar Ramirez
Director: Tate Taylor
Paula Hawkins' much loved novel is a dark and disturbing psychological piece.
And thanks to Emily Blunt's impressive performance, the book's unreliable narrative has been turned into a compulsive and uncomfortable thriller, that grips in its own sickening ways as the onion unpeels back and reveals its layers.
Blunt plays Rachel Watson, a divorcee who believes she sees something when Haley Bennett's Megan Hipwell goes missing. But the investigation headed up by Allison Janney's Officer Riley proffers up more than a simple case of a missing person...
Half of the thrill of The Girl On The Train's unfurling is in the not knowing - and having not read the source material, the twists and turns are well-paced and backed by a powerful Blunt performance (though given its apparent faithfulness to the book those who've read it may not be as taken by the reveals).
Tapping into a world of uneasy voyeurism, of a woman wronged and suspicion, depression and paranoia, Blunt delivers a powerhouse performance of a woman whose life is on the edge and in freefall that lifts the material from a degree of predictability (With only a few players in the cross-hairs of suspicion, The Girl On The Train's ultimate reveal is no surprise to anyone au fait with such thrillers - though potentially, the mystery here is not the main point of the film).
From her downbeat look, to her dulled by alcohol acting, this is a nervy turn that sees the audience siding with and against her as it plays out. Flashes and flashbacks flesh out the proceedings as the split narrative kicks in, but central to it all is Blunt, and she damn well earns your attention and acting adulation as it plays out. And Blunt's smart enough to never overplay the woman wronged role or overplay the alcoholism elements - it's a precise performance and one that's nuanced enough to not rely on the over-acting to ensure your attention.
Equally impressive is Bennett, a woman whose star is clearly on the ascent.
From a hard-edged turn as Megan, the slow-lilting fractured edges of the narrative tease out a different backstory than perhaps one was expecting for this nanny and Bennett does her all to bring the role to life. Without giving much away, it could be easy to make this role a one-dimensional caricature, but Bennett imbues the character with both damaged edges and realism and consequently, shifting allegiances and loyalties flip duly as the narrative plays out.
Everyone's damaged in this distorted and disjointed timeline and narrative, but that shifting perspective and reveals over pasts / coincidences and tragedies are excellently handled by Taylor in the directorial chair. Juggling the pieces of a brutal puzzle well, the final result is sickeningly compelling.
The Girl On The Train may very much be a spiritual sibling to the darkness of Gone Girl, but thanks to its disorienting unpeeling of what lies beneath the surface, it's a tremendously unsettling ride that's worth buying a ticket for.