Written by: Erin Cressida Wilson
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney
Protagonists lead the audience through stories with everything revolving around them and their journey. In most stories, because the audience experiences everything through the eyes of the protagonist, we see what they see, therefore being on their side. However, whenever an unreliable narrator pops up it makes for such an unruly and interesting viewing experience, which certainly becomes the case for The Girl on the Train.
Every day during her commute on the train, Rachel (Emily Blunt) looks out the window and passes the same neighborhood. She observes this young woman who seemingly has the relationship and life she desires. However, when she suspects the woman of having an affair, she gets involved in a sticky situation that surprisingly hits close to home.
With an alcoholic beverage available at all times and an uncertain level of sobriety, following Rachel through this journey becomes a frustrating one because everything occurs through an unclear glass. The audience sees things as she does but it becomes apparent we cannot fully rely on how Rachel perceives the world. The alcohol certainly does not help nor does a lot of her assumption being based on what she sees from a train. She must have quite the vision and be aboard a slow train in order to see the level of detail the film shows Rachel viewing from her seat. One thing remains clear, Rachel does not find herself in a healthy place and something about her fixation on this woman leads to her discovering something very sinister.
On several occasions I found myself yelling at Rachel to leave this situation alone but her persistence despite her alcoholic inhibitions unravel a layer of abuse and destruction at the hands of men. This becomes apparent and the real revelation of this film comes from the expectation of what kind of man would cause such damage to women. The film posits this does not always come from those you would expect, which makes perfect sense in the real world where nice men pretend to be noble until they do not get what they want.
All in all, this remains Rachel’s experience, and as much as the audience tries to figure the reasons for a young woman’s disappearance, getting to the bottom of who Rachel truly is becomes just as important. As the story begins, we only know she travels by train and stays with a college friend. Not living much of a life to the point where she finds the most intrigue in life by looking through a window on a train, there has to be more to this woman. As the plot further unravels, it shows there may be more than just a little fascination on the part of Rachel. Sure, it makes the story a bit more convenient at times, but nonetheless entertaining.
The entertainment value along with its shock twists allows this feature to be one that brings great enjoyment. As you may attempt to put together the logic and story structure, many flaws can be found and extrapolated upon, but the fun lies in how this thriller never lets you feel comfortable with the situation Rachel has found herself in. It ends up being quite the fun affair thus allowing me to forgive its more lackluster moments.
Cast-wise this brings together such fascinating characters and they all work well together. Some of them play their characters well because of the previous baggage they have with audience members, which makes the decision of attaching them to specific characters that much more fun. Emily Blunt, Hailey Bennet, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Justin Theroux, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow, and Édgar Ramírez demonstrates the level of talent on display. They each have their moments to shine but of the supporting cast, Ferguson sticks out the most. She plays a character in quite a delicate situation throughout the film. Serving as both an adversary, equal, and ally to Rachel at times, she must contend with plenty and Ferguson really nails this role. A character containing more complexities if focused on more, but the moments throughout do just enough for the actor to leave her mark in this feature.
This film, however, belongs to Emily Blunt, who needs to play this drunkard character trying to find some sort of meaning in life. I still cannot decide whether I believe this performance to be good or not, but Blunt certainly does something intriguing with this character. Even with her shoddy decision-making, Blunt never loses the sympathy of the audience in her attempts to solve this mystery. It may not be her place but we’re all in it for the ride. Not sure if Blunt was the best choice for this role but she definitely made some choices and certainly went for it.
Some may see the big reveal coming, but the way it aligns with the themes about men’s abusive control over women rings true throughout. The mystery and the intrigue maintains its momentum throughout, never letting this story be dull or boring in any stretch. Good economical filmmaking anchored by an intriguing lead performance and a supporting cast of equally mysterious and empathetic characters. A fun one to throw on.