Our Editor is always telling us that he’s going to write a book unfortunately this never seems to go much beyond writing the page numbers and the only book that he ever completed was his Winnie the Pooh colouring in annual (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed) but readers of best sellers will have noticed a trend for ’girl’ titled books. So over the past few years we’ve had The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl and now the latest is The Girl on the Train which has left our Editor perplexed as he took the title too literally and was therefore totally bewildered by the books plot machinations but thankfully for the rest of us we have a decent thriller which had its film rights quickly snapped up with a lead female role that had Hollywood actresses fighting over it with Emily Blunt winning.
She plays a Rachel Watson a Manhattan PR executive who on her daily commute by train stares out the window at the houses as the train passes by especially the house where she used to live with her ex- husband (Justin Theroux) who now lives there with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson)and baby causing Rachel much distress as she catches a glimpse into a life she’d always dreamt of. It’s this snapshot of people’s lives that drives the film as two doors down from the address she sees another loved up young couple Scott and Megan (Luke Evans & Haley Bennett) who seem to have no qualms about their public displays of affection on the back porch. Ironically for a film based on a best selling novel it soon becomes clear that you should never judge a book by its cover (which is why our Editor lost his job as the Chairman of the National Book Cover Illustrator’s awards)when she catches a glimpse of a chink in Scott and Megan’s armour in what she has always thought was their idyllic lifestyle that makes her re-evaluate what she thinks she knows especially when the wife of the neighbour goes missing and Rachel becomes a suspect.
At first this is initially a run of the mill thriller but there are several elements which raise the bar notably that Rachel is an alcoholic whose memory proves far from reliable. It’s quite a shock to see Blunt look so grim at first, baggy eyed with matted hair she looks every inch the alcoholic even more so when flashbacks show her in her pristine prime when married and its only as the film goes on we begin to find out why she resorted to the bottle and as she says from the start, ‘I’m not the girl I used to be!’ And so the secrets and back stories pour out which makes it initially so compelling and it’s the same for the rest of the cast with each of them having secrets that emerge in the films many flashbacks. For once though this is a film that is led by the three female leads with Blunt giving a brilliant performance unlike anything we’ve seen her do before and Haley Bennet especially good as the wife who goes missing with the lesser of the roles going to Rebecca Ferguson in a not especially sympathetic role though in truth none of the character are especially likeable though it’s perhaps Blunt who’s most sympathetic with her ex husbands treatment of her that prompts her downward spiral and escape into alcoholism
With Rachel’s story nearly always in doubt with her memory being so affected by her drinking it’s left to the audience to try and separate the fact from fiction and with the police bought in to investigate she quickly finds that her involvement is going to destroy others too.
It’s certainly a riveting first half as skeletons come out of the cupboards and what emerges as a common thread between the three women is that of motherhood and children which ultimately becomes pivotal to the plot. The problem however is that it does take a while to get there as things sag slightly by the third act. Despite that it’s an especially great cast who all have their moments and for once it’s good to see a film with the men playing second fiddle to several female leads.
Here’s the trailer: