Before I see a film, there’s an occasional bit of trepidation. There’s always the risk that the results will not live up to the expectation, especially if the studio includes the best moments in the trailer. Good editing and well-placed scenes can leave you duped. Such was the case with The Girl on the Train, a film that teased mystery and suspense, but failed to deliver on both. I was expecting something in the vein of Gone Girl but was left with something much more forgettable.
Emily Blunt (Sicario) stars as Rachel, a troubled divorcee who hasn’t gotten over her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux, Zoolander 2), despite the fact that he’s moved on by starting a family with his former mistress. Rachel is battling demons, struggling with addiction, living day to day with the loneliness and betrayal of her failed marriage. She commutes to Manhattan on the train every day, often gazing out at the sprawling homes dotting the train’s path. One home in particular draws her attention, a charming white abode occupied by an enchanting young couple. The woman, a carefree blonde, is everything Rachel wishes she were: vibrant, hopeful, in love. Her husband appears devoted and loving. Rachel crafts a narrative for the couple in her mind, spinning fanciful tales from weeks of brief observations.
When the young woman Rachel’s been observing goes missing, she comes even more unhinged. Claiming to have witnessed her abduction, she tells the authorities – who are reluctant to believe her, given her fragile emotional state. Things get even more complicated when it’s revealed that the missing woman was also Tom’s nanny. The characters are intertwined in a way that isn’t abundantly clear – and here’s where I hoped the film could’ve been more suspenseful. For a substantial portion of the film we watch Rachel stumble through her pathetic life in a lonely haze, but instead of empathizing with the character, I was mostly apathetic.
Furthermore, the story felt disjointed, as writer Erin Cressida Wilson (Men, Women & Children) used flashbacks, frequently shifting back and forth from different perspectives and points in the recent past. Perhaps this device was employed in the book from which the film was adapted, and maybe it was more effective in that medium, but it faltered here. The pacing was slow and uneven, and I didn’t feel emotionally connected to the characters. The film didn’t become worthwhile until its final act, which was overwhelmingly predictable. I feel catfished by this movie. Take it from me and save your money. Grade: D+