Tate Taylor (The Help) dips into a darker tale with another anticipated adaptation, The Girl On The Train. Emily Blunt stars as Rachel, the titular girl who also happens to be a functioning alcoholic who cannot move past the life she lost. She rides a commuter train every morning and night, a long trek that’s highlighted by a clear look at an idyllic house with a perfect couple. The female in this duo, Rachel tells us, is the girl she used to be.
Through boozy interludes and time jumps and character shifts we learn that there’s much more to the story than what Rachel sees from the train. The idyllic woman, Megan (Haley Bennet), actually feels trapped and lost, and soon enough she goes missing. She also happens to live three doors down from Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the current wife of Rachel’s ex (Justin Theroux). This second duo are even more on the receiving end of Rachel’s attentions. As the events unfold, suspicion begins to fall on Rachel, who has nothing but a black mass of hazy half recollections to tell her of her own actions, and an alarming coming to covered in blood to go on.
It’s a plot that’s built on being an unreliable narrator in one’s own lIfe. It’s tricky to encapsulate, occasionally unclear on the page and must have been devilishly tricky to adapt, and yet, the final product is a sleek and engaging effort that’s driven by a fantastic turn from Emily Blunt.
Readers will find the adaptation to be a highly faithful one, less the unnecessary change of scenery to New York (which doesn’t feel as natural a setting as London). The Internet, in its way, has had much to say about Blunt taking the lead role, calling her too pretty to pull it off. Just as Jennifer Lawrence was deemed too blond and beautiful to play Katniss Everdeen. As ever, the casting in practice proves that it’s down to talent and nothing else that determines the success of anyone in any role. Blunt was amazingly vulnerable in Sicario and finds depths beyond that here. She successfully renders Rachel the broken, frankly hot mess that she is, without overplaying anything. Yes, she has the benefit of some Hollywood makeup magic to render her cheeks puffy, her eyes red, but it’s the variety of states of drunkenness (and lack thereof) that really give the performance depth. Are her hands shaking? Did she just slur?
The Girl On The Train does slip into the territory of melodrama ridiculata at turns, but it comes by that flair for the dramatic very naturally. Yes, these so-satisfying-you-can’t-help-but-laugh instances take the picture solidly out of the realm of a serious and studied work like Gone Girl, but this Girl has her own story to tell and her own style.
The Girl On The Train is a fun and slick little thriller that gets a boost from Emily Blunt’s chops and lovely micro-turns from Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow. See it to whet your fall appetite for mystery.