The hope was “The Girl on the Train” would be this year’s version of “Gone Girl” — a lurid and occasionally credulity-defying but immensely entertaining and satisfying thriller based on a best-selling page-turner.
Not even in the same bloody ballpark.
Tate Taylor’s adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ compulsively readable psychological murder mystery fails to match David Fincher’s interpretation of the Gillian Flynn thriller on every level.
It’s shiny trash that begins with promise but quickly gets tripped up by its own screenplay and grows increasingly ludicrous and melodramatic, to the point where I was barely able to suppress a chuckle at some of the final scenes.
Emily Blunt gives a fine performance in a role that requires her to be inebriated, blackout drunk, reeling from a massive hangover, shedding tears, throwing a fit, engaging in obsessive stalking — or some combination of the aforementioned. It’s exhausting just watching her. “The Girl on the Train” could really use one of those sleeper cars.
Blunt’s Rachel is an emotionally scarred alcoholic in full free-fall some two years after her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), had an affair with their real estate agent, a beautiful young blonde named Anna (Rebecca Ferguson); dumped Rachel; married Anna; moved Anna into the home Rachel decorated — and had a baby with Anna.
So to sum up: bad couple of years for Rachel.
Every morning and every night, Rachel takes the train to and from the city, a train that zips by so close to Rachel’s former neighborhood, she can catch glimpses of her ex-husband and his new wife and their baby through the windows.
We learn one dark secret after another about each of the women, and the men in their lives, and how just about everyone is living some version of a lie and their lives are entangled in a sleazy pile of twisted, sometimes sadistic and eventually violent behavior.
And then there’s Allison Janney’s detective, whose primary purpose seems to be to taunt Rachel and to violate so many basic rules of police investigation her superiors should be arresting HER by the end of this movie. It’s not a bad performance, but it’s a terrible, laughable role.
The same could be said for the big confrontation when All Is Revealed — and the epilogue, which tries to make some kind of female bonding statement about Rachel, Anna and Megan.
Rating: Two Stars out of Four