Movie Review: Girl on the Train: A Complicated Story of the Past, Present, and Future

By Jason Yon
Elm Staff Writer

“The Girl on the Train”, starring Emily Blunt and Haley Bennett, is the twisting and turning story of a voyeuristic woman, Rachel, and her struggles with alcoholism. Her story is told through a series of flashbacks involving graphic scenes of infidelity and insanity after she sees too much from a moving train window. The movie involves multiple relationships that soon become tangled in an indecipherable knot. To make the plot line more clear, there should be a chart included in the movie preview to explain everything. It is a complicated mess that eventually gets resolved in the final minutes of the film. Certainly, this movie is not for all audiences. This type of film seems to cater towards the group that finds “50 Shades of Grey” to be entertaining.
Rachel, played by Emily Blunt, is the main character of the movie and is the titular woman on the train who looks into people’s lives and becomes involved in what eventually becomes a murder mystery. Several years before the story takes place, she dealt with marriage and conception issues with her husband and fell into alcoholism, which led to their divorce.  After their separation, she became obsessed with her ex-husband: returning to their house, stalking him on social media, and riding the train past their backyard twice a day to peek in on his life. Her severe alcoholism completely consumes her and she can hardly distinguish her drunken desires from reality. As a result, her memory becomes severely clouded.

Emily Blunt
“The Girl on the Train” features actress Emily Blunt.

A couple lives two doors down from Rachel’s old house and the wife, Megan works as a babysitter and nanny for Rachel’s ex-husband’s new baby. Since she lives next to the railroad, Rachel also frequently spies into her life as well. Throughout the story, flashbacks reveal problems in Megan’s life, from her current abusive relationship to her infidelity and past problems with babies. Although Rachel knows nothing about Megan, she is often the subject of Rachel’s spying and obsession. Without knowing anything, Rachel assumes that Megan’s relationship with her husband is perfect but in reality, he is highly oppressive and abusive.
The movie includes a whole other list of characters: Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband; Anna, Tom’s new wife; Scott, Megan’s husband; and Dr. Abdic, the psychiatrist for Megan and Rachel. All of them have problems that are uncovered throughout the story and all of them contribute to the insanity and infidelity. By the end of the movie, two characters die and the viewer is led to believe that Rachel has reached some sort of solace. Her life is completely turned around by these events, and she seems to be unaffected by all of the terrible things that happened in between.
“The Girl on the Train” is a tangled mess held together by sexual fantasies, relationship drama, and a murder mystery made into a mystery by one person’s lack of mental cohesion. While it is unclear, it appears Rachel’s strong addiction to alcohol is the only explanation to the movie’s twist ending and conclusion. Many of the scenes shown that were complicating the plot were revealed to have just been hallucinations, manipulations and misunderstandings. The whole film seems too complicated for its own good and it became easy to lose interest while watching. One specific problem was the frequent use of flashbacks. The flashback were preceded by title cards saying exactly when in the plot it was occurring, but they suddenly cut back to the present without a warning, leaving the viewer wondering whether the flashback had ended. The movie likely appeals to a select group of people, but anyone outside of that group will find nothing redeeming in “The Girl on the Train.”
Score: C-

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