Film Reviews

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

By • Oct 6th, 2016 •

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If you envy the staged, make-believe life of the Kardashians, you will understand the premise. Blunt, Bennett, Evans, Ferguson and Theroux are sensational. Especially Bennett. If you loved the book, this delivers.

Why do we love to tear down our stars and heroes? Is it because it exposes the sham that was foisted on us by well-paid PR firms? Until we are shocked to hear about an idolized couple’s ugly divorce, we thought how lucky they are and how unhappy we are not to be them. Then their perfect lives explode. See, life isn’t so great even with world fame, a $60 million mansion, a private jet and a staff of 16.

Shakespeare wrote: “if money go before, all ways do lie open.” Isn’t it comforting to know that having everything you want does not necessarily mean you are happy?

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) has been divorced for two years and is living in the spare room of her friend Cathy’s (Laura Prepon) house. Still devastated by the affair and remarriage of her ex, Tom Watson (Justin Theroux), to a beautiful young woman, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), her problem drinking has escalated. Rachel lost her New York City job due to her drunken behavior but with her alimony checks she pretends to go to work every day, taking the Metro North train from the suburbs.

Everyone else’s life looks so damn perfect. Rachel begins to daydream about the perfect couple she sees through the train window every morning and evening. They are the Hipwell’s: Sexy, divine creature Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans) and his supermodel-looking, aggressively blond wife Megan (Haley Bennett). The Hipwell’s apparently love to display themselves on their bedroom deck as the train passes.

And, coincidentally, the Hipwell’s live a few houses away from where Rachel lived with Tom. That house is now home to Tom, his wife and their newborn daughter. Rachel could not get pregnant with Tom and now cannot keep away from stalking them. The constant phone calls and unexpected visits by a drunk Rachel are frightening Anna.

Even though Anna does not work, she needs help so Tom hires Megan to look after the baby. Scott thinks it’s a great idea since he wants Megan to want to have a baby.

Megan is bored and restless. Whatever issues she is dealing with, her seductive behavior with her therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez), questions our belief in her fidelity to her demanding, passionate husband.

So Rachel spends months crafting perfect lives for these two enviable couples.

Scott and Megan are movie star gorgeous. The world is their oyster. But one morning Rachel sees Megan on the deck kissing a man not Scott. How could she be so stupid to jeopardize her perfect life? She had the perfect life with Tom and she ruined it. Why is Megan having an affair? She has the perfect husband.

Rachel has blackouts. So the morning she wakes up bloodied and bruised, she knows something awful happened the night before.

Then the news hits that Megan is missing. The media and detectives are looking at Scott as their prime suspect.

Rachel goes to Scott and tells him she saw Megan kissing another man. She has now placed herself into the Hipwell’s drama and Detective Riley (Allison Janney) is interested in her.

I usually do not like ‘Look it’s Me” Danny Elfman scores, but this one is strong and really enhances the cinematography by Charlotte Bruus.

Was Emily Blunt too beautiful to play Rachel Watson? Yes. Paula Hawkins’ Rachel was really a mess. She was overweight and slovenly. While the glamourous Blunt is not here, there are many past scenes of her happy life with Tom when she is not drinking and looks lovely. I would have hoped Blunt went the Charlize Theron path and gained 10lbs. It would have been okay, since Blunt was pregnant at the time of filming. As far as movie star protocols go, yes, Blunt looked unkempt.

There are female drunks. There are women who cannot let go of their ex-husbands. There are women who are jealous of their ex-husband’s new wife. There are ex-wives who are not drunks who check up on their former husbands. There are always Kate Hudson rom-com movies if you like fantasy and happy endings.

I thought Bennett was fantastic and so was Evans. Theroux should be mentioned for accepting and not downgrading such a bastard role. Both Evans and Theroux’s dialogue recalls the harsh ugly terms they called Rachel in the book.

Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson has done a terrific job of keeping the beloved book’s tone. If you loved the book, and loved the flawed female characters Hawkins delivered, you will love THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

Director Tate Taylor should also be praised for putting all the interlocking pieces together and is clearly a woman’s director. He got great work out of all the actors and actresses.

Originally, Paula Hawkins said this about the casting of Emily Blunt: “Lots of people have complained that she is too beautiful and all wrong,’ says Paula, who met Blunt on a set visit. ‘She is obviously more beautiful than I imagined Rachel, who is overweight, but it’s about the way you carry yourself. That is how [Blunt] gets the damage across.’”

Following the notorious demands that author E.L. James got from Universal for Fifty Shades of Grey – among the contract demands were approval of director, writer, cast, locations, screenplay, marketing materials, trailers and James’ presence every day of filming and a producer credit – it looks like Hawkins made her very own demands. Hawkins is on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter with Blunt. The story has a full page lovely photo of Hawkins and another full page photo of Hawkins with Blunt.

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

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