“The Girl on the Train” is based on the 2015 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name and follows an alcoholic woman (Emily Blunt) who gets involved with a missing person investigation. Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux and Luke Evans also star as Tate Taylor directs.
When I saw the trailer for this I, like many people, made an instant connection to “Gone Girl” due to the feel of the film and the whole “missing wife” plot. Upon seeing the film, it has a few similarities to that film, including non-linear timelines and unreliable narrators, but doesn’t share anything else that made “Gone Girl” so good.
Emily Blunt has really come onto the scene and into her own in the previous few years. After starring in romantic comedies like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” she headlined the action-thrillers “Looper,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Sicario.” So it makes sense that Blunt is the best part of this mystery, but the performances of her and her fellow actors aren’t enough to save the film.
Blunt plays Rachel, a divorcee whose life is spiraling out of control thanks in large part to her alcoholism. Blunt makes the character sympathetic, but at the same time there is an uncomfortable sense about her; when she tries to interact with another person we in the audience almost cringe because of how unnatural and awkward it feels. Justin Theroux (always welcome in my book) plays Rachel’s ex-husband, who remarried and now has a kid, and although he seems like the nicest guy in the world and is admittedly a victim to Rachel’s drinking, there is a tense sense whenever he is in the room.
That is the one thing the film does well, it establishes tones and feels, sometimes multiple at once based on what character is speaking, and being set in New York City during the autumn gives everything a brisk, dark orange glow.
However the performances get drowned out by a screenplay that is so intent on keeping everything in the shadows that is reveals nothing about the plot until the very end. While “Gone Girl” (or most any successful mystery) drops subtle hints throughout about the true nature of its tale, “Girl on the Train” keeps everything spinning and murky until it hits you over the head with the “twist” ending. Except it really can’t be called a twist because it wasn’t truly alluding to one outcome and suddenly flipped the script; it just spins you in circles until you barely know or care what is going on before jerking you to a stop and expecting you to just appreciate that you finally got some answers.
The dialogue doesn’t pop and the direction never is sure-handed enough to take any real chances. It plays out pretty much exactly how you would expect the guy who directed “Get on Up” and “The Help” helming a “Gone Girl” wannabe.
“The Girl on the Train” isn’t *bad* but there is no reason you should ever see it. There aren’t enough thrills to keep you engaged or enough mystery to make you think, and isn’t even so-bad-it’s-good; it’s just so-meh-it’s-boring.
Critics Rating: 4/10