The Girl on The Train in trailers presents itself as a suspense thriller with an unlikely female lead who witnesses something from a train. Giving an initial impression of a possible who done it, with Emily Blunt taking an unlikely lead. The true picture is a rather different story or three stories tied together. The Girl on the Train’s full plot tells the stories of three abused and mistreated women unraveling in different ways.
We have our main protagonist Rachael, played by Emily Blunt. Rachael is a divorcee with a severe alcohol problem and an obsession with her former neighborhood. She rides the train every day to look at it while consuming large amounts of vodka hidden in containers and other beverages. She becomes involved in the investigation of the disappearance of another woman, Meghan. Rachael is performed by Blunt in a masterful way, but she is written as a character I found difficult to empathize with. I found it difficult to not want to slap her and scream get over it, your marriage ended two years ago. As the film progresses we learn more about her and it does redeem her slightly, but not enough for me to truly like her.
The second plot-line focuses around Anna, played by Rebecca Ferguson. Anna is the other woman in Rachael’s failed marriage. She is in many ways a simple suburban mom, but also seems obsessed with proving Rachael is a stalker and dangerous. She is out right paranoid in a large number of ways. Ferguson’s performance is rather neutral, but she also wasn’t given the plot or depth the Blunt’s Rachael was to work with.
Our final lady in the plot-line is nanny to Anna and neighbor Megan, played by Haley Bennett. Megan is probably the most traumatized and abused women in the film. She is noted to have experienced a prior pregnancy, a series of abusive men, and an accidental infant death she caused. She is a complex and guilt ridden person. She is also the missing woman that drives the plot, giving Rachael her secondary obsession. Bennett gives the most emotional performance in the film, her encounters with her therapist make her the most relatable or at least the easiest to pity.
There is one minor character given a role as a strong woman in Allison Janney’s Detective Riley. Riley, tells it like it is and holds both Rachael and Megan’s husband as suspects on the missing Megan. She is an independent women, but she also gets little plot and screen time. Most of her scenes involve forcing Rachael to look at the truth in a painful way.
The cast is rounded out by two main male characters Tom played by Justin Theroux, the husband of Anna and ex of Rachael, and Scott played by Luke Evans, the somewhat anger driven husband to Megan. Both of these men are shown to be abusive and controlling. Neither actor gives an award winning or engaging performance.
While the plot and directorial choices made by Tate Taylor give the film a suspenseful feel and do make you want to know what really happen, it is difficult to get past the abused and week seeming women as the films main focus. For plot this film could be a pick-it choice, but from my own perspective as a woman I want to flick-it all the way to Mars.It comes close to making all women look like dependent and frail creatures, the men are shown as prime candidates for abuser of the year. While we do find the women’s states to be related to the abuses they have been suffered, the experiences give a negative light and is almost enough to warrant a trigger warning for women who have been in abusive relationships. Regardless of the plot’s suspenseful turns keeping you guessing until about 10 minutes to the end, I cannot get past the negative portraits of women in this picture. For this I flick-it.
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