By: Nick Chidiac / October 14th, 2016
Built around a particularly frightening example of emotional abuse, The Girl on the Train weaves an intimate web of deceitful drama and unthinkable tragedy, creating the ideal whodunit scenario before unravelling its mystery detail by detail, its characters, and viewers alike, rethinking everything they thought they knew about the crime in question.
Emily Blunt plays Rachel Watson who, while commuting daily to and from Manhattan for work, becomes obsessed with what she sees from her seat on the train as the perfect relationship, one that just so happens to take place a few houses down from where she used to live with her ex-husband, Tom, played by Justin Theroux. Rachel is a functioning alcoholic that drinks vodka from her water bottle, and even though her main focus is on the beautiful couple she envies so much, she can’t help but, at times, glance into the window of her former residence, where Tom still lives with his former mistress, and current wife, Anna, who is played by Rebecca Ferguson.
Rachel’s world is turned on its head, however, when one day she spots the object of her adoration, Megan Hipwell, in the embrace of another man. Played by Haley Bennett, this distant and complicated woman becomes, in Rachel’s mind, a symbol of her own shortcomings, and that night, after getting falling-down drunk in the city, she decides to get off the train a few stops early and tell Megan exactly what she thinks of her betrayal of commitment. Cut to the next morning. Rachel awakens to the throbbing amnesia of a blackout. A news report about Megan’s disappearance and the fact that her hands and face are covered in blood and bruises appear to be no coincidence, but her lack of memory keeps her from connecting the dots of the night before. Fearing the worst, she starts meeting with Megan’s husband, Scott, who’s played by Luke Evans, claiming to be a friend of his wife’s in an effort to solve the mystery of her fallen idol’s demise. The ensuing events continually thicken the plot, keeping the audience changing their prediction as far as which character is the guilty party, and revealing Rachel’s recaptured memories along the way. But it isn’t until she quits drinking that Rachel figures out the real reason for the horrible events from which the film’s conflict is drawn.
Blunt’s acting is what drives this movie. She handles the role of the strangely entangle ex-wife extremely well, and tacks on the slurred speech and stumbling of an alcoholic seemingly effortlessly. Haley Bennett’s performance is excellent as well. The mystique that she creates with her performance is what lures Blunt’s character toward the haunting appeal of control, over both fantasy and, eventually, her own mind. Also worth noting is the way that director, Tate Taylor puts the viewer into the mind of its main plot contributors. The resulting production is The Girl on the Train, a dramatic and disturbing thriller that will keep you guessing until it tells you whose direction to cast your pent up aggression, a solid picture that’s worth the price of admission.