Girl on the Train a bumpy ride worth the trip

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British-born actress Emily Blunt is on a roll. I thought she was terrific in the 2015 crime-thriller film, Sicario. She played an FBI agent, Kate Macer, a difficult part to pull off. It gave her some considerable attention in the U.S. for her acting ability. Blunt has experience in both stage and film work and is also known as a pretty good singer. She will be filming in 2018, Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to the 1964 musical classic.

Enter the 2016 bumpy ride, The Girl on the Train.

Justin Theroux
Justin Theroux

First, this is not an easy film to sit through. I hate seeing a fragile, complex woman, in this case Rachel, played superbly by Blunt, get sloppy drunk and then act out on top of it by smashing mirrors and tossing cupcakes around. It’s hard to sympathize with such a character. So, in my situation, I had to just stay with it and let the movie play itself out: one long, train ride; one quick flashback after another. Also, Rachel narrates her solo parts.

As the title suggests: a train ride is central to the shaky plot in this movie. It’s a commuter train that riders, such as Rachel, a divorcee, take daily into Manhattan for work, and back to the suburbs at night. The scenic Hudson River is often a backdrop. (In Rachel’s case, we find out much later that this typical reason for taking the train doesn’t really apply to her.)

Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), still lives along the train route in a very nice single family home he and Rachel once shared. Tom’s new wife’s is Anna, played by Rebecca Ferguson. She’s a blond. Rachel, a brunette, likes to spy on Tom’s young family from the train. She also gets off sometimes and stalks Anna, Tom and their young child.

Why don’t Tom and Anna have Rachel prosecuted for her threatening behavior? This would be the logical thing to do. They don’t and this makes the contrived plot even harder to accept.

Haley Bennett
Haley Bennett

To complicate matters, Rachel also intrudes on another home, two doors away from Tom and Anna’s. The gal who lives there is a blond-headed hottie, Megan (Haley Bennett.) Her husband is Scott (Luke Evans), who’s built like a halfback for the LA Rams. Like Rachel, Megan narrates her solo part.

Megan works part time as a nanny for Tom and Anna. Tom is also screwing the hell out of her every chance he gets. Then, Megan becomes pregnant! (You see how darn complicated all of this is?)

Most of the time, however, the depressed Rachel is walking around New York City lit up with booze, or slouched deep down in her train widow seat, or sticking her mug up against the glass pane, or simply sitting there mumbling to herself.

Rachel usually appears badly hung over, the result of a huge bender the night before. Some of her alcoholic-induced flashbacks border on the incredulous. It’s difficult to take her rants seriously.

It’s about eighty-five percent through the movie, when it mercifully picks up steam, with some consistent logic. Megan, the hottie, goes missing! Where is she? Did she run off with a new lover? What about that shrink she’s been seeing? Can he be trusted? Did her hot-headed hubby, Scott, find out that she was cheating on him behind his back and stuff her down some deep well? Scott becomes a person of interest, and, so does our gal — Rachel!

Allison Janney
Allison Janney

It’s time for the New York City police to make a dramatic appearance. The suspense really begins to build after that happens, as more revealing flashbacks come zooming by.

Blunt carries the movie in a performance worthy of a rising Hollywood starlet. She has a lot of help, too, from a very strong supporting cast. Keep an eye out for Ms. Haley Bennett. She is very easy to look at and has stardom written all over her.

I was also very taken by the compelling performance of character actor, Allison Janney (Officer Riley). As a former Baltimore city prosecutor, I can tell you that Riley comes off as the real, let’s-get-to-the-bottom-of-this mess detective.

Summing up, It’s the powerful acting, not the flawed script/directing (Tate Taylor directed) that makes The Girl on the Train worth seeing. I’m giving it three out of five stars.

Photos via YouTube trailer