Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Plot: Rachel (Blunt) is an alcoholic who takes the train through her old neighborhood into the city everyday. She sees her old house, her ex-husband (Theroux), and his new wife (Ferguson) and baby. She misses that life deeply, and it’s driven her further into her addiction. She also sees another house, with a couple seemingly in love, and idolizes their relationship. One day, she sees something she’s not supposed to, and the girl (Bennett) goes missing. Nobody will believe a crazy alcoholic though, right? Looks like she’s got to solve this on her own.
What Works: This might be Emily Blunt’s best work. She’s unhinged here, so great as a troubled alcoholic struggling to get her shit together, while fighting blackouts and lost memories. The film lets her down, but she never lets the film down. In fact, none of the actors in this film disappoint. In addition to Blunt (who I think needs to be seriously considered this year for an Oscar nomination), Haley Bennett delivers her best performance as Megan, an almost equally disturbed character, with more under-the-surface flaws. Both of them should at least be in the conversation, as both deliver two of the best performances I’ve seen this year. The rest of the cast is on point, for sure, but aside from a few outbursts of rage, have less complex characters. It’s Blunt and Bennett that carry this film. I will say, though I hated most of the film, I did enjoy the ending. I thought it tied the story together well.
What Doesn’t Work: Sometimes, critics go to see a movie with another human being. I went with my mother to see this, because she had read the book and really wanted to see this film. She absolutely hated this film, and really wanted to walk out after 40 minutes, despite the fact that she loved the book. I have not read the book, but I did want to include this as a point of reference. She said the film had taken a lot of liberties, and also was much slower paced than the book. As an example, Laura Prepon’s character in the movie doesn’t exist in the book. Now, for my thoughts. I also thought this movie was tremendously slow. the first two thirds of this film are so fucking slow. I hadn’t read the book, and I kept thinking “this film has GOT to get better, there must be a HUGE twist”, so I stayed. I also stayed because Blunt and Bennett were both amazing. But this film was dancing dangerously on a fine “walk out” line. It’s by far the worst thing Tate Taylor has directed, and proves he’s out of his depth here. I would say the film has an interesting look, but it also has long shots of nothing that contribute zero to the film except to extend the viewers patience. It’s almost as if someone said “this film is moving too fast, how do we slow it down?” Well, having Emily Blunt stare off into space is one way, I suppose, but the least effective way. The first two thirds of this film is just a giant sleight of hand, trying to get you to form opinions, before hitting you with the third act twist. Honestly, even though I enjoyed the ending, there were still pacing issues throughout the third act. I don’t know what happened in translation from book-to-screen, but I can’t imagine a book paced this awfully would be a best-seller.
Final Word: Two powerhouse performances isn’t a reason to rush to the theatres. If you’re truly curious, wait for video. Also, make sure you drink a red bull before, or at least a coffee. Don’t see this movie if you’re already tired, because The Girl On The Train is cinematic Ambien.
FINAL GRADE: C-