By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is of the thriller The Girl on the Train that has been adapted from novel by Paula Hawkins.
Directed by Tate Taylor and starring Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux, The Girl on the Train is screening at the popular Phoenix Leicester.
I caught the current UK’s number one box office film at my number one favourite cinema…
Emily Blunt plays Rachel, a divorcee of Tom (Justin Theroux) who is now married to the woman he had an affair with named Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Rachel gets entangled in a missing persons’ investigation when Megan (Haley Bennett), Tom and Anna’s nanny, suddenly disappears. Rachel becomes a prime suspect with Megan’s boyfriend Scott (Luke Evans) and her shrink Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez)
We first meet Rachel riding the train to New York. Every day she takes the same train at the same time and sees the same sights. It’s the same sights that is important here. Every morning and night, Rachel sees two couples in their houses on the road she used to live on. She watches her ex-husband and his new wife dote over their child in the house Rachel used to live in with Tom and she also sees Megan and Scott begin their passionate life together.
We quickly learn that Rachel is not as clean-cut as you think. She’s an alcoholic, jobless and has blackouts. So when Megan disappears, the prime suspect to be involved is Rachel. When Emily Blunt signed onto this project, I was excited. However, Blunt slightly overacts in her role as Rachel. When she has her alcohol-induced episodes, it seems really over the top. Emily blossoms in the more dramatic sequences when confronting other characters or reminiscing after her blackouts. She has an expressive face and that certainly is her strength here.
All the characters in The Girl on the Train are intriguing, but massively under-developed. They are one-dimensional which doesn’t work with such a detailed narrative. This makes the film lack heft. All the core characters are either angry or icy and quiet. Justin Theroux’s character Tom is interesting but we see too little of him until the final 20 minutes which is too late. For a ‘whodunit’ thriller, the character depth is weak.
The direction of this film by Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) is somewhat ‘marmite’. People will either love his storytelling via quick paced montages and sliders that say ‘6 months earlier’ or will hate this stop-start method. I’m in the latter camp. The first half an hour introduces each character and jumps back in time and then back to the present, it becomes very tedious early on sets a bad precedent. The final 30 minutes is much slicker with tense build up scenes and revealing sequences but this hard work is unravelled from the off. It almost feels like a lot of The Girl on the Train's potential was left on the cutting room floor and only taken out for simplicity.
If you’re hoping for a film to think about long after the credits roll, you won’t get it here with The Girl on the Train. Cinema-goers need more than just the (expected) twist in the end if you want to leave people puzzling. The characters could be really interesting, but the narrative to back them up isn’t on par. It’s intriguing and a little twisted which is fun, but it's marinated in the essence of ‘seen it all before’.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2.5 Stars
The Girl on the Train is currently showing at the Phoenix Leicester – certificate 15