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Review: The Girl on the Train

Emily Blunt stars in DreamWorks Pictures' THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

On its surface, The Girl on the Train looks to have all the makings of an intriguing experience for people wanting suspense and thrills presented in a form of cinema for mature audiences. Even as you’re watching it, you see the potential for that kind of stuff to be prominently featured. It’s just unfortunate that none of that comes close to actually being delivered.

This story centers around Rachel (Emily Blunt), a lonely woman having trouble coping with a recent divorce and an obvious drinking problem. Aside from drinking and moping around all day, she wonders about the lives of others while on her daily commutes on the train. A house she passes everyday appears to have a perfect couple living there. She always dreams about the life that they had until she witnesses something shocking take place that puts her directly into the middle of a dangerous mystery.

The Girl on the Train wants to find the success of Gone Girl, but it doesn’t have the necessary quality to achieve that. In that 2014 hit movie, there’s a chemistry and vibe that flows through the entire picture that allows it to be an actual source of entertainment while accurately speaking on certain aspects of society in 21st Century America. The Girl on the Train doesn’t come close to having any of this, and that’s why it ultimately fails in trying to accomplish whatever it is that it wants to accomplish.

The lack of actual characters also hurts what we’re seeing. You’re unable to connect with any of the characters or even manage to care about them. They’re as bland and as sullen as the tone of the movie. Even when their characters are supposed to be at least somewhat happy, it feels as suppressed and soggy as a rain filled day in an isolated section of the wilderness.

Aside from the lifeless performances, the way everything is set up also helps in hurting the chances of audiences connecting with the characters. The movie itself is a disjointed mess that fails to effectively jump from character to character in terms of the narrative point of view. It also falters when it hops back in time. Every time these things occur, it feels as if there’s simply an abrupt stop before we reset and have to watch a new movie at its opening stages.

For the most part, you know what’s going on, but there’s no type of connection with anything. The way this is handled leads me to believe that was way more in the book that isn’t shown in the movie. That’s to be expected, but the finished product is severely lacking. I don’t usually say this, but this is a movie that could have benefitted from being longer than it is. Adding to the run time may have allowed the movie to build characters with depth while also smoothing things out. Then again, maybe it would be just a longer bore than it already is.

You also expect some kind of twists being included in stuff like this. While there is one included at the end, it’s really not all that much of anything we haven’t seen before. What could have been spectacular and interestingly juicy turns into something that can only be described as generic and conventional.

Going with a different conclusion would have been the wiser choice. I’m guessing they wanted to stay with the ending from the book, but what we get is predictable, hard to believe and undoes everything that comes before it. It also leaves holes in the story, but I won’t get into that.

Those factors mixing in with us not caring about anyone here only hurts the movie even more. Because of this, The Girl on the Train fails to impress on even the most basic level. It doesn’t need to be Gone Girl for it to get a positive reaction from people. That would be difficult to achieve anyway. While it didn’t need to reach those heights, it would have been nice to see it at least turn out to be somewhat decent in the end.

Rating: R

Director: Tate Taylor

Emily Blunt
Rebecca Ferguson
Haley Bennett
Justin Theroux
Luke Evans
Allison Janney
Edgar Ramirez
Lisa Kudrow
Laura Prepon

Film Length: 112 minutes

Release Date: October 7, 2016

Distributor: Universal Pictures

  • Score - 3/10
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