No, The Girl on the Train is not the film adaptation of Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” blues standard, although that song has been stuck in my head ever since I sat in the theater waiting for the movie to start. But enough about my mental problems, there are plenty of other psychological issues to discuss regarding this new thriller.
If you liked 2014’s Gone Girl and you’ve been itching for another atmospheric whodunit involving unstable characters, then The Girl on the Train will certainly provide that fix. It’s not a perfect film; its narrative is not as tight as it could have been and it sometimes stretches credulity to the breaking point, but nevertheless this is an entertaining entry into the suspense genre.
Without giving too much away, the murder-mystery involved six major characters, five of which could potentially be the killer (or killers.) How their lives are intertwined is slowly revealed in layers that lead you down one path and then turn you in another direction. The timeline is also jumbled up (more than it needed to be) in an effort to keep you on your toes.
By half-way through the film I was able to solve the puzzle, but my theory wasn’t proven correct until the end; so my character profiling in no way hampered my enjoyment of watching it all play out – mostly as I expected.
My biggest issue with The Girl on the Train is that certain parts of the story seemed to be included simply to throw you off the trail and were not necessarily organic to the big picture. Additionally, I can foresee some mental health do-gooders taking issue with how some of the psychological nuances are portrayed in this movie.
On the plus side, Emily Blunt delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as said girl on said train, Rachel Watson, a lovelorn and depressed alcoholic who lives vicariously through the strangers she sees in passing – which include lovers Scott (Luke Evans ) & Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), and the husband & wife, Tom (Justin Theroux) & Anna Watson (Rebecca Ferguson).
The film also stars Edgar Ramírez as Megan’s psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal Abdic; Allison Janney as a detective investigating the murder; Lisa Kudrow as a woman from Rachel’s past, and Laura Prepon (who you might know as Alex Vause on the Orange Is the New Black Netflix series) as Rachel’s long-suffering roommate.
The Girl on the Train is directed by Tate Taylor (The Help – 2011) and the screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson is an adaptation of the bestselling book (with the same title) by Paula Hawkins. I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t speak to how closely it was followed, but those I’ve talked to whom have enjoyed the source material seem to be happy with the film.
This movie is dark and mostly devoid of humor, with the exception of its climax, which takes, I think, an inadvertently humorous turn that the audience is begging for at that point. So if you’ve a hankering for some murder-mystery, it’s worth taking a trip on this train. Grade: 7/10
Photos © 2016 Universal Studios