Have you ever had those moments where you drink too much, experience a black out and then wake up a few hours later soaked in blood that may or may not be yours? Aye, I haven’t either. Nonetheless, here’s my review for Taylor’s new thriller: The Girl on the Train.
Much like your everyday train excursion, Taylor’s narrative starts off slow but gradually picks up a lot of momentum. The movie opens with a non-diegetic narration told by Emily Blunt’s chapped-lipped Rachel, who unsurprisingly enough is speeding through a community of closely-knit houses on a train. I wouldn’t blame you if you were totally switched off at this point, but hold on.
Much like the trio of houses on display, the narrative is also proficiently woven between the three main characters of this movie; Blunt’s Rachel, Haley Bennett’s Megan and Rebecca Ferguson’s Anna – three women who are woefully interlinked through tragic similarities. We are first introduced to Rachel journeying past a street she used to live on, only this time we are intelligently shown how her decline to alcoholism is fuelled by her jealousy of her ex-husband, Tom, and his new family with Ferguson’s Anna.
The Girl on the Train does an excellent job in making viewers empathise with Rachel’s psychological deterioration and instability. The continuous choppy editing and bleak colour palette that runs through the entirety of the movie encourages us to feel the same sense of disorientation and dizziness Rachel herself is experiencing, heightening the atmospheric tone set from the very first scene of the movie. As the film progresses we are forced to participate with Rachel’s unravelling of her fragile psychosis, uncovering truths about her past troubles and concerning behaviour.
However, Rachel isn’t the only character we are going on a journey with. Haley Bennett’s portrayal of sex-addicted but troubled Megan also invites us to discover her dark and upsetting history, so the parallel between both Rachel and Megan is expertly evident throughout the movie.
There’s no doubt that Taylor’s The Girl on the Train shares plenty of similarities with David Fincher’s excellent film adaptation of Gone Girl, the main connection being that the movie isn’t a ‘whodunit?’ movie, but rather a ‘did-they-do-it?’ one, instead. The entire narrative tailors around the unfolding on whether Rachel is responsible for the disappearance of Megan, the main problem being that Blunt’s character is an obsessive and incessant drunk who is prone to recurring blackouts where she cannot recall the actions she undertakes. She awakes after a subsequent blackout, soaked in blood and fingernails enclosed with dirt and learns that Megan has disappeared unexpectedly – and her behaviours makes her the prime suspect in every sense of the word.
Although the movie has plenty of twists and turns on its rather sinister journey, there’s also moments where certain discoveries are dependant on a misrepresented lie. The movie’s main twist, and I won’t spoil anything here, feels a little cheap as we are purposely told a lie in order to unravel a key truth. If I were to tell you that I was an ex-professional gymnast, you would have to take my word for it. But if later on down the line I was to tell you that revelation was a lie and that I have the flexibility of an 80 year old riddled with arthritis, you wouldn’t call it an unexpected twist, you’d call me out for being untruthful. And this is essentially what this movie does, it sets up a truth and hits us with a lie, and that for me is not a twist – it’s a purposeful attempt to deny any sense of predictability by hiding important information.
With that being said, I did have a lot of enjoyment with this movie. It keeps you engaged throughout its entirety despite its dreary tone and themes, an accomplishment that is achieved through some unexpected moments and its thrilling journey of mental degeneration that forces us sympathise with the characters on display.
A Solid Thriller!
There’s no doubt for me that The Girl on the Train does not deserve the amount of stick it’s getting. There’s some truly unnerving moments of suspense and empathy, guided by a fantastic performance from Emily Blunt that is tantamount to her brilliance in last year’s Sicario, once again proving that she is one of cinema’s most underrated talents over recent years.