'The Girl on the Train’ is a Rough Ride - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

‘The Girl on the Train’ is a Rough Ride

The British-born actress, Emily Blunt, is on a roll. I thought she was terrific in the 2015 crime-thriller film, “Sicario.”  She played an FBI agent, Kate Macer – a difficult part to pull off. It gave her some considerable attention in the U.S. for her acting ability.

Blunt has experience in both stage and film work and is also known as a pretty good singer. In 2018, she displayed her vocal talents in the featured role in “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel to the 1964 musical classic.

Now, let’s go back to 2016. Blunt took us for a rough ride in the movie, “The Girl on the Train.” I recently checked it out on Netflix.

First, this is not an easy film to sit through. I hate seeing a fragile, complex woman – in this case (Rachel), played superbly by Blunt – get sloppy drunk and then act out on top of it by smashing mirrors and tossing cupcakes around.

It’s hard to sympathize with such a character. So, in my situation, I had to just stay with it and let the movie play itself out – one long, train ride, one quick flashback, after another. Meanwhile, Rachel narrates her solo parts.

As the title suggests: a train ride is central to the shaky plot in this movie. It’s a commuter train that riders, such as Rachel, a divorcee, take daily into Manhattan for work, and back to the suburbs at night. The scenic Hudson River is often a backdrop. (In Rachel’s case, we find out much later that this typical scenario didn’t really apply to her.)

Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), lives along the train route in a very nice single-family home. His new wife’s name is (Anna), Rebecca Ferguson. She’s a blond. Rachel, with her dark hair, enjoys spying on them from the train. She also gets on by stalking them, and their young infant.

Why don’t Tom and Anna have Rachel prosecuted for her threatening behavior? This would be the logical thing to do. They don’t, and this makes the contrived plot even harder to accept.

To complicate matters, Rachel also zeroes in on another home, that’s within spitting distance of Tom and Anna’s. The gal who lives there is a blond-headed hottie, Megan (Haley Bennett.) Her husband is Scott (Luke Evans), who’s built like a halfback for the New York Jets. Like Rachel, Megan narrates her solo part.

Megan works part-time as a nanny for Tom and Anna. Tom is also screwing the hell out of her every chance he gets. Then, Megan becomes pregnant! (You see how darn complicated all of this is?)

Most of the time, however, the depressed Rachel is walking around NYC City lit up with booze, or slouched deep down in her train widow seat, or sticking her mug up against the glass pane, or simply sitting there mumbling to herself.

Rachel usually appears badly hungover, the result of a huge bender the night before. Some of her alcohol-induced flashbacks border on the incredulous. It’s difficult to take her rants seriously.

The movie is about eighty-five percent over when it, mercifully picks up steam, with some consistent logic. Megan, the hottie, goes missing! Where is she? Did she run off with a new lover? What about that shrink she’s been seeing? Can he be trusted?

Did her hot-headed hubby, Scott, find out that she was cheating on him behind his back and stuff her down some deep well? Scott becomes a person of interest, and, so does our gal  – Rachel!

It’s time for the New York City police to make a dramatic appearance. The suspense really begins to build after that happens, as more revealing flashbacks come zooming by.

Blunt carries the movie in a performance worthy of a rising Hollywood starlet. She has a lot of help, too, from a very strong supporting cast. Keep an eye out for Ms. Haley Bennett. She is very easy to look at and has stardom written all over her.

I was also very taken by the compelling performance of character actor, Allison Janney (Officer Riley). As a former Baltimore City prosecutor, with a cameo on Barry Levinson’s TV classic, “Homicide: Life on the Street,” I can tell you that Riley comes off as the real, let’s a get-to-the-bottom-of-this-mess detective.

Summing up, it’s the powerful acting, not the flawed script, that makes “The Girl on the Train,” still worth seeing. I’m giving it three out of five stars.


About the author

Bill Hughes

Bill Hughes is an attorney, author, actor and photographer. His latest book is “Byline Baltimore.” It can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/William-Hughes/e/B00N7MGPXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 Contact the author.
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