The movie follows the life of commuter Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) and the mysterious Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett) whom she sees every day from the train. Rachel doesn’t actually know Megan’s real name, but rather invents the perfect life story for her and her husband as she passes them by.
Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), lives in the same neighborhood as Megan. Rachel, a serious alcoholic, still calls her ex frequently, enough so that his current wife worries for their safety.
Rachel’s world gets turned upside-down one day while riding the train when she sees Megan kissing a man who isn’t her husband. Enraged by her cheating behavior, since her ex did the same to her, Rachel gets drunk and visits their neighborhood.
She wakes up the next morning, having forgotten the whole night, and she is covered in blood. She soon finds Megan has disappeared, and she struggles to piece together what happened and what her role in it could have been.
“The Girl on the Train” is an interestingly woven film. The story jumps from Rachel’s unreliable point of view, to the view of Megan, the victim in the movie. As the audience sees snippets from both of their lives, viewers can start to piece together the evidence and memories to complete the story. Though this style could get confusing, the movie seamlessly passes between the two characters, creating an interesting framing effect.
The film was full of broken characters and, in fact, not one of them was totally sane. In the lead role, Emily Blunt was able to completely take on the role of the sad, alcoholic ex-wife. As the viewer sees what she sees and is convinced that she’s telling the truth, everyone else in the film is hesitant to believe her because of her drinking.
Justin Theroux in his role as Blunt’s ex-husband was another stand-out-actor. As his role becomes more and more complicated, Theroux is able to maintain a charming façade while making viewers wonder about what could be underneath.
Despite the skill of the actors, the film became a little too much like a soap opera at times. Yes, it does deal with the disappearance of a young woman, but the life of each character was unnecessarily dramatic. I often found it hard to believe that so many truly complicated and messed up people could find themselves involved in the same web of lies. Between affairs, abuse and alcohol problems, the characters were just too distractingly unbelievable at times.
All of this unnecessary drama does amp up the atmosphere of the film, however. Though it’s nearly two hours long, you’ll often find yourself on the edge on your seat, trying to piece together the scenes you’ve seen and decide whether or not to rely on Rachel’s memory. It will certainly hold your attention.
“The Girl on the Train” definitely has its issues. It can come across as an overdramatic soap opera, but at the same time, it’s also a well-crafted mystery that involves complex characters. It wasn’t outstanding, but if you like mystery novels or enjoyed the book, this adaptation isn’t too bad.