The Hippo


May 27, 2020








The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

 Emily Blunt is a woman so lost she’s not sure if she’s seen a murderer or become one in The Girl on the Train, an ultimately kind of lightweight story given gravitas by Blunt’s standout performance.

Rachel (Blunt) rides a commuter train each day from a suburban town to New York City, staring out the window as she goes. What we eventually learn is that she’s not actually commuting; she’s long since lost her job and is just riding the train into the city and then back out, keeping herself quite inebriated with booze sipped from a water bottle along the way. She also spends her time sketching and being fixated on a pretty blonde woman and her handsome husband — two people she sees from the train. She always notices their house and what they’re doing, perhaps because it’s only a few doors down from what used to be her house. 
Rachel and husband Tom (Justin Theroux) broke up a few years ago and now he lives at the house — the house, as she tells us, that she decorated — with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the woman he had an affair with while still married to Rachel. Tom and Anna have a one-year-old daughter, a fact that seems to stab the knife into Rachel particularly hard. When looking at their life is too painful, she turns her gaze back to the blonde woman.
As it turns out, her life ain’t perfect either. Megan (Haley Bennett) is the woman’s name and she is bored and restless, and married to Scott (Luke Evans). He wants her to get pregnant; she wants to have an affair with Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez), her therapist. Megan works for a while as Tom and Anna’s nanny — though she doesn’t seem particularly keen on stay-at-home mom Anna or her baby.
After months, maybe even more than a year, of watching Megan and imagining her happy marriage, Rachel is shocked when one day she sees Megan on the porch hugging and kissing a man who isn’t her husband. Later, extremely drunk, Rachel tells no one in particular that she wants to bash Megan’s head in for her betrayal. A little bit later and even drunker, Rachel sees, or thinks she sees, Megan go into a tunnel near the train station. She yells at her. Something happens to Rachel — does she fall? Is she knocked down? — and then she wakes up back at the apartment where she has been crashing with a friend for more than a year. She’s bloody and bruised and has no idea what happened. 
Later, police Detective Riley (Allison Janney) shows up with questions about Megan, who has gone missing. Whether Riley thinks Rachel is a suspect or just a possible witness, she knows more than she initially lets on about the constant harassment Rachel has leveled at Tom and Anna. She perhaps even knows more than Rachel, who is fascinated by Megan’s disappearance but even more curious and worried about what she might have done that night and all the other times she blacked out. 
The Girl on the Train is basically a nuanced, engrossing, Oscar nomination-worthy portrayal of a woman who has given in to sadness and addiction to such a degree that she can no longer figure out what’s real, surrounded by a bunch of Lifetime movie nonsense that could be called, like, Deadly Suburb. Before we know what Rachel’s deal is, before we even really know how much she drinks, we can see the sadness radiating off her. Somewhere around the halfway point, Rachel explains what has broken her heart and, while it’s interesting to hear her story, we already saw the depths of her brokenness. It almost doesn’t matter what has broken her. We know it’s more serious than just losing the cardboard cutout that is Tom
(An aside: seriously, though, let’s talk about Emily Blunt, who was awesome in Sicario last year but didn’t even get a Golden Globe nod, and her need for an Oscar nomination. She was fantastic in that movie and is really the only worthy thing in this one. She elevates this from throwaway goofiness to a real movie with real acting. Blunt in 2017! Blunt for America! Let’s make this happen, Academy members.)
But then, like reheated frozen chicken nuggets encircling a filet mignon, around that completely magnetic performance are the stories of Megan and Anna, which get nuttier and more melodramatic as the story unfolds. There’s Luke Evans, playing Scott with the subtlety of a classic-era 90210 very special episode about controlling boyfriends. There’s Justin Theroux, whose final scenes are borderline hilarious. And there’s the whole plot which — as with so many horror films — would basically not happen if the central couple just moved to a different house. I’m not necessarily saying I disliked all of these things. When, in early spring, I am stuck on the couch with some kind of respiratory situation and I flip past this playing on HBO in the early afternoon, I will totally turn back to it and watch it. I will tell myself it’s because of how awesome Emily Blunt is. And while that will be, like, 70 percent of the reason I watch this again, part of it will be because it’s just silly fun.
Can you enjoy an artisanal sausage served on a plate full of movie theater hot dogs? Will a perfectly seared ahi tuna be taken as seriously if it is surrounded by Doritos? Check back at awards time, I guess. Until then, feel comfortable checking out a bit of junk food suspense because it comes with a healthy helping of serious acting. B-
Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity. Directed by Tate Taylor with a screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson (based on the book by Paula Hawkins), The Girl on the Train is an hour and 52 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.

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