Just the ticket for mystery thriller fans

by Gazette Reporter

The Girl on The Train is a solid, if often meandering mystery thriller, adapted from the bestselling 2015 book by Paula Hawkins.
Told from the perspective of heart broken alcoholic, Rachel (Emily Blunt), the narrative develops at a sometimes-turgid pace. However, as each piece of this Hitchcockian puzzle is slowly uncovered, The Girl on The Train has the potential to grip and not let go.
During her daily train commute to Manhattan, Rachel voyeuristically obsesses with a young couple, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett), catching glimpses of their house from her train window. One morning, Rachel witnesses something shocking and after learning that Megan has been reported missing, she reports what she saw to the authorities.
However, emotionally devastated after the dissolution of her own marriage to Tom (Justin Theroux), Rachel has turned to drink. Her own investigation into Megan’s whereabouts becomes increasingly troubled by her unreliable memory, her alcoholic binges and the worrying fact that Rachel herself is a suspect in the police’s investigation.
The Girl on The Train deals with confusion and the muddling of emotions – it is a film just as much about heartache and profound loss as it is about guilt, paranoia and obsession. However, thematically underlining everything in The Girl on The Train is the fragility of memory.
Like many filmmakers before him, Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up), deals with this subject by visually constructing his film in a manner that evokes the disoriented act of remembering.
The Girl on The Train is fraught with chronological leaps and contradictory incidents, visually replicating Rachel’s confused, distorted memories.
Thus, Rachel is the archetypal unreliable narrator. This is certainly an interesting narrative component early on in The Girl on The Train, keeping us on our toes. In cinematically replicating Rachel’s inebriated state, the film is afforded a kind of dreamy, stylishly sluggish ambience, which is often visually gratifying.
Unfortunately, Rachel’s confused state, foggy memories and violently wavering emotions make for an often-muddled middle act that has the tendency to drag. The mystery refuses to move along at a gratify pace and spends a little too long exploring Rachel’s troubled state of mind.
While this is undoubtedly an interesting theme, executed admirably by director Taylor, the weight it’s given results in a film that often feels like its telling two stories. The Girl on The Train delights with its cryptic opening and exciting climax but would greatly benefit from a little more narrative clarity in its middle act.
There’s a taut, intriguing mystery at the centre of the film, told with touches of DePalma in its stylised reimagining of Hitchcockian themes. Blunt is superb as the troubled Rachel, developing a well-rounded heroine that, owing to her own weakness, is equal parts sympathetic, irritating and emotionally affecting. Despite fine acting all-round, the other characters here are not afforded the same depth.
Due to it’s lacklustre mid-section, The Girl on The Train never quite grips like it should. Though it fails to deliver on its early potential, there’s an enjoyable, often genuinely unsettling thriller here. Each moment of narrative revelation, when it finally hits, is intensely gratifying; if melodramatic mystery thrillers are your kind of thing, The Girl on The Train is certainly worth your time.
Verdict: 7/10

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