Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett
Director: Tate Taylor
Running Time: 112 mins
The Girl On The Train is an American film about a depressed, alcoholic and lonely woman who spends her time fixated on a woman living in a house which her train to work passes by. As the days go by, she becomes more and more consumed, but that obsession begins to cause problems for the people in that woman’s life.
This is a really entertaining and engaging thriller. I can’t say that it’s by any means the most intelligent or down-to-earth mystery ever put on the big screen, but its confidence and style, evoked mostly through a haunting score, excellent directing and a spellbinding central performance, make it a thoroughly engrossing watch from start to finish.
The one thing that we all want in a thriller is an interesting and unpredictable story, and that’s exactly what this film does. From the start, the plot introduces all manner of possibilities through the use of flashbacks and individual character focus, and it makes for a fantastic set up to what later becomes a very complex plot.
The most immediately gripping element of the whole film is easily the central character, played by Emily Blunt. Initially swinging between a full-on antagonist and a simply misunderstood woman, this character was utterly fascinating to watch develop right from the start of the movie, and the fact that we spend so much time focusing on her in the exposition phase gives you a strong emotional connection, something that comes into play brilliantly in the latter stages.
But the main reason that the character is so enthralling is because of Emily Blunt’s performance. The likes of nothing we’ve ever seen before from the actress, her relentlessly gritty portrayal of an extremely depressed and possibly mentally unstable woman is absolutely mind-blowing to watch from start to finish. She doesn’t make the film a pleasant watch, but her performance is so powerfully intense that it gives the entire film an extra level of brilliant dramatic tension.
Bearing her character in mind, the film gradually becomes more and more engrossing. Because we spend so much time with a character who we barely even know, and are none the wiser as to when she will flip, the story is consistently on edge as the stakes ramp up. With no spoilers. I have to say that the events and content of this plot were absolutely enthralling to follow, brilliantly building up to a seriously intense finale.
The film is also a technically enthralling watch, with expert directing from Tate Taylor, who perfectly sets the high-stakes, intense and unpredictable atmosphere of everything that happens in The Girl On The Train, something fantastically complemented by very gritty cinematography and a particularly intense and haunting score.
In the end, all of that comes together to make The Girl On The Train a powerfully intense and enthralling watch, but for one major issue that arises in its final act. Although I loved the directions the plot took, the final act’s revelations and climaxes aren’t quite as intelligently handled as they should be. In comparison to a similar mystery-thriller, Gone Girl, The Girl On The Train’s various revelations at the death aren’t quite so convincing in a real-world context.
Apart from the fact that a couple of moments are a little preposterous, what’s most frustrating is that the answers are given from what feels like a third-person perspective. Instead of seeing the characters on screen unlock the resolution to the mystery, we get a series of detached flashbacks to the scene of the crime, which really made me feel as if the film hadn’t earned the right to give us the answer, feeling a little like a quick cop-out to tie up all the loose ends.
Again, I loved the content of the resolutions, but it was frustrating to see them handled in a somewhat lazy manner. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this film from start to finish, thanks to its unpredictable, high-stakes and intense mystery, stunning central performance by Emily Blunt, brilliant directing, cinematography and scoring, and that’s why I’m giving The Girl On The Train a 7.9 overall.