The 2015 New York Times Bestseller, “The Girl on the Train” makes a return, this time, from paper to the big screen. The nearly two-hour long psychological thriller hit theaters on October 7th. The film has a few nuances to the book, such as the change in location, from London to New York City, but still carries on the key components of the novel, such as the three deceitful female narrators. It’s eerie and heavy-breathing twisted plot is sure to allure both the novel’s current fan base and newcomers alike.
“The Girl on the Train”, directed by Tate Taylor, best known for his work from “The Help” and “Get on Up”, unfolds with an opening sequence where Rachel (Emily Blunt), who gives the story it’s title, is staring longingly out the window of a moving train. She narrates that she is not the same girl as she used to be, a critical line that comes up again at the end of the movie. Now divorced, depressed and drunk on the daily, Rachel fantasizes about the dream lives of the people who live in the houses passed by the train. She, particularly, grows a voyeuristic obsession with a very attractive and seemingly picture perfect couple, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans). When her favorite character, Megan, goes missing, Rachel believes a glimpse of something she saw from the train may have contributed to Megan’s disappearance. Rachel inserts herself into the police investigation, in hopes of discovering what happened to missing women, but instead, she discovers far more than just that. As she tries to unravel the mystery of Megan’s disappearance, Rachel unravels the series of lies that she lives.
Rachel, the girl on the train, is a complete train wreck. She was once happily married to Tom (Justin Theroux), but her infertility lead to their divorce and her uncontrollable drinking problem, which then caused her to lose her job. With no occupation, Rachel fills up her daily routine by riding the train to New York City, which provides a view into the backyards of the Westchester Country homes, where she used to live with Tom, who is now remarried to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and has a baby daughter, a product of an affair that started when Rachel and Tom were still married. Rachel lives in a cycle of violent sobs and muzzy hangovers, (hinted by the heavily smeared eyeliner and cracked lips that she always sports). She douses herself in liquor to forget that Tom has moved on without her. Constantly sedated and misty eyed, Rachel is portrayed as an outsider in the idyllically lavish suburb of New York. Blunt keeps her British accent in the movie, drawing her even closer to isolation. Rachel’s state of despair and hopelessness is brilliantly captured in Blunt’s raw and compelling acting. The extreme close range shots of Blunt with narcotized eyes and furrowed brows, draws a new level of intimacy between the audience and Rachel, connecting with her emotionally and sympathizing her pain.
The story unfolds through layers of changing perspectives and broken timelines in reverse chronological order, leading up to the day of Megan’s disappearance. Seemingly unrelated, the three toxic women, Rachel, Megan and Anna’s apprehensions piece together to reveal the terrifying truth.
Throughout the first half of the movie, I kept asking myself when would the climax appear? What was the relevance and connection of the scenes in relation to the grand scope of the plot? I began to get bored and almost a little confused, because the first hour of the film solely consisted of loosely tied backgrounds descriptions of the three female narrators. It was difficult to make the connection between the scenes and the purpose they served. However, the lack of zest was made up for by the Taylor’s clever maneuvering of the sequence of events. He manages to contemplate the viewers just enough to intrigue, but not to confuse them, allowing the audience to have a big ah-ha! moment when the fragments of each of the women’s story finally piece together.
The intensity of each scene is greatly amplified by the dramatic music, played almost constantly in the background. Hints of foreshadowing and symbolism appear throughout the movie, one worth mentioning is the scene where water drops on Megan’s forehead. This act signifies the death of Megan’s first born baby because she accidentally killed it when she fell asleep with it in the bath, a drop of water from the leaking ceiling woke her, only to see that her baby had died in her arms. This scene is shot from a birds eye angle, Megan’s head is tilted up towards the sky when a droplet falls on her face. Later in the movie, this act re-appears to introduce the news that Megan is pregnant with a second child, an announcement that would cause her life.
The movie closes with a similar sequence as the opening scene, but this time, she rides a different train. She narrates that she is not the same girl as she used to be. Rachel no longer lusts for the life of others, she does not look back at the houses passed by the train, she looks forward, at her future.