The latest thriller to hit the theaters has solid acting, a decent pace and twists and turns galore. “The Girl on the Train” is based on a New York Times Best-Selling novel, and the up-coming film was featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly not long ago. In short, the pressure was on director Tate Taylor to deliver the goods. In several ways, he did.
The film has plenty of voice-over narration to let you know what people are thinking. There is Emily Blunt as Rachel, the ex-wife who rides the train from Hastings-on-Hudson to Manhattan and back every day. She does this partly to fool her roommate Cathy (Laura Prepon) into thinking she still has a job and partly to watch the life of Megan (Haley Bennett), daily, as the train passes her house. Yes, it is as creepy as it sounds. Megan refers to Hastings-on-Hudson as a baby factory as she spends her days running. The good thing about Bennett, she can play detached suburban wife, therapy patient with a sex drive on hyper-speed, and coquettish Lolita seemingly all at once. Third of the main female leads is Rebecca Ferguson, the pretty, adoring new wife who loves her baby and feels every bit the Stepford Wife she sounds like. Justin Theroux is the man that links the three women.
About twenty minutes in, an earworm came out of nowhere, well, actually it came from what I was seeing on screen. The Monkees’ hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday” kept creeping into my brain: “Another Pleasant Valley Sunday/ Here in status symbol land/Mothers complain about how hard life is/And the kids just don’t understand.” “The Girl on the Train” is all about things not being as they appear. All artifice of a suburban dream life that is not real.
Blunt does a splendid job of portraying a woman, unable to bear children, who sees her marriage fall apart and her drinking increase to the point of losing time. When Megan disappears and Rachel has blacked out due to another night of excessive drinking, things get intriguing. Is Megan dead? Did she run off with her therapist? Why is Rachel covered in blood? How did she get home after a night of carousing? To get the answers, you’ll have to see the film for yourself.
There are plenty of thrillers that are beautifully shot and well-acted. “The Girl on the Train” has plenty of them in its DNA. There are plenty of long shots of the train running along the coast, some gorgeous exterior shots, too. There is a high level of tension as Rachel gets more and more involved with the search for the missing Megan. Then there is Allison Janney as the cop investigating the disappearance. Lisa Kudrow has a small but important part that moves the story forward. It all comes together in a film that doesn’t rush, and does allow room to get attached to some of the characters. “The Girl on a Train” offers enough turns and plot points to keep things interesting all the way through.