Tuesday, November 1, 2016

[Review] The Girl on the Train

Adapted from Paula Hawkins' bestselling novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train has frequently been billed as "This year's Gone Girl." And not just because Girl is in the title--or the fact that it also released during a first weekend of October--but it, too, is a twisty whodunnit enhanced with clever POV narration and steeped in themes of voyeurism and the general descent into the depths of suburban sadness. With that said, there's a glaring difference between David Fincher's Gone Girl and Tate Taylor's The Girl on the Train--One of these films is great, and it's not this one.

Disheveled and recently divorced Rachel (Emily Blunt) is yes--the girl on the train, observing the lives of a "perfect couple" in daily passings and becoming insanely obsessed along the way. Stalkerish even. Okay, beyond stalkerish. She eventually gets entangled in the mystery of a missing woman named Megan (Haley Bennett). Turns out, they share some significant connections...

The story's told in non-linear fashion--bits and pieces of foggy memory flashes. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work very well. It's muddled with humdrum exposition and fractured time jumps, like it can't decide which pieces it wants to show or tell (and when). And for being considered as a psychological thriller, the film really doesn't elaborate a whole lot on the psyche of any of the characters. They're all virtually walking flesh and bones of one-dimensional misery.

Initially, The Girl on the Train at least holds enough intrigue to make you want to see how this mess transpires. But after a while it just grows tiresome--like a Lifetime melodrama but with better acting. Or "Dateline"-inspired fiction on the big screen. The climax is certainly dark and maddening, but it isn't really anything surprising, highly revelatory, or mind-blowing. Emily Blunt gives a strong and emotional lead performance, and emerging star Haley Bennett is quite impressive in her supporting role, but they both get lost in the film's flat tone and dull unraveling of the narrative.

In addition to Gone Girl, this film has even drawn comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window. But honestly, the only rear window I wanted to see The Girl on the Train through was when I was driving away from the movie theater.

( 5.5/10 )

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