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Girl on the Train Review: A Dark Ride Between Murder & Madness

By Julian Roman — October 3rd, 2016

The Girl on the Train is a well-acted mystery with a fair amount of suspense. The twists and turns are clever in parts, but the outcome isn't that unexpected. I did not read the hit novel by Paula Hawkins, but have heard glowing reviews. Fans will certainly enjoy this adaptation. It is a dark, sensual ride between madness and murder. The gotcha moment isn't as captivating as hoped, but that's a minor criticism when the body of the film is so strong.

Emily Blunt stars as Rachel, a depressed alcoholic teetering on the edge of sanity. Rachel has a habit of blacking out with no memory of her booze-fueled exploits. She spends her days riding back and forth on a train, drunkenly stalking the life that left her behind. Her ex-husband (Justin Theroux) has married his mistress (Rebecca Ferguson). They have a beautiful baby daughter. Several houses down, a gorgeous young wife (Haley Bennett) is their nanny. She has a vibrant sex life with her dashing husband (Luke Scott). Rachel yearns for this paradise, but soon realizes it may all be an illusion.

The performances by the female leads are outstanding. Emily Blunt is forefront, but the story is also told from Ferguson and Bennett's point of view. I'm being intentionally vague about these characters. The best part of the film is discovering who these women really are. They are bonded together in a spider web of intrigue and deception. Their influence on each is powerfully moving. Director Tate Taylor did an exceptional job casting this film. Its success hinges on their talent and they do not disappoint.

The Girl on the Train has several contrivances. The most glaring is the behavior of the police. A junior detective would have figured this one out before lunch. It's impossible to believe the authorities would let the situation play out as it does. Suspending disbelief is a must to propel the sordid plot. I'll liken it to sopping up a big bowl of soup. You have a pretty good idea what's in the bottom of the bowl, but still enjoy getting to it.

Arriving from Universal Pictures, The Girl on the Train is worth the ticket. It's a competent thriller with brilliant characterizations. Specific imagery is vital to a number of key scenes. Taylor executes these parts with a deft touch. He brings a level of artistry that must have been taken directly from the source material. Emily Blunt continues to prove her versatility as an actress. She plays tough so well in films like Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario. It's impressive that she can be so wounded here.

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