The Girl on the Train (2016) Review

director: Tate Taylor

writer: Erin Cressida Wilson

starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson and Justin Theroux

genre: Drama | Thriller

released: 6 October 2016 (Australia & Greece), 27 October 2016 (Germany), 7 October 2016 (USA)

The fastest selling adult novel will not become the fastest selling adult film any time soon. As the film has a multitude of issues in regards to its characters and plot and being quite obvious in its development of its big twist. Naturally, people who have read the book will probably say the story is better told in it, but if the film is any indication of the book’s worth, it isn’t much.


Rachel (Emily Blunt) takes the train everyday into the city to go to work and passes by a street she used live on. There she sees the woman that is living in her old home and another woman living supposedly the dream life she wishes she had. When Rachael catches a glimpse of something she shouldn’t one day, she tries to confront the woman of her actions and not to throw it all away. But due to her inebriation she can’t remember what truly happened that day and will only lead her down a dark path of secrets, hidden relationships and past trauma.


Being the hit novel it seemed this project was destined to turn into a hit film and even from its trailer and title it intrigued many people’s curiosity. Maybe not in the same way ‘Gone Girl’ did for so many of us but enough that it had a better selling pitch than films such as ‘Deep Horizon’ or ‘Inferno’ had. Sadly, its pitch was one of the few good things about the film. As the direction it took was the most conventional of routes and with the most despicable of characters to endure on with.

Most of the time during any film’s progression of its big mystery. We are on the ride with someone whom we like and get to know them even more while we are exploring the story’s world or getting closer to the truth. Here every main character we meet is worse than the last. With indisputably appalling actions from almost each one of them in their way of life and conduct. So moving forward we don’t want to follow any of them or care about their issues as none of them have any redeeming qualities.

SPOILERS: However, the reason I believe this film was written this way (at least for the film) is for us to easily believe that the main character of Rachel as a suspect when the mystery begins. While this tactic makes sense for general audiences. For more experienced cinema goers, it just screams obvious what the filmmakers intent was. As the whole film is about instilling disbelief in its main character, laying along the way heart wrenching dramatic moments that would be great if we cared more about the characters and if the film was actually about them and then oops a twist. As the film isn’t that intelligent in how it develops its plot. Its game is to paint a complete picture of ambiguity in Rachel’s character, motive and behavior in order for us to believe she might be the killer and this derails almost two thirds of the film. As the filmmakers were afraid to give attention on other characters that could have been the killer or develop an actual plot where characters take part in. As it isn’t that much of a surprise when you play the game of elimination on who the killer will probably be and who he or she had an affair with. Also when you hire said specific actor who isn’t the most honest looking of them all it isn't that much of a surprise to think it’s them.

Furthermore, besides the mystery, violence and sex. I’ll ask the simple question was this film about something and was it anything more than just a thriller? I don’t think so. It wasn’t really a redemption tale or a character study on what guilt can do to a person or how we can easily be manipulated by other people. As the character of Rachel didn’t even know why she was trying to uncover the mystery in the first place. As she was constantly drunk out of her mind and a self-pitying victim. Also the character who manipulated her seems to only acted in specific ways to her and to no one else in the film, which is kind of convenient to the plot.

What I honestly wanted this film to be while watching it was about the different paths married women take. That not all married life is honest, that we possibly might live lies that we are aware of, that we try to still honor our vows despite of the pain and we break moral codes of conduct and that sometimes the limits are pushed. Instead, the film just creates a main story of who killed who and why, with a subplot of why that person got into that situation in the first place. Which gets me back into the whole they are despicable characters to follow. Especially with the time given and their actions within the film. So should I like Rachel for being a completely egoistic individual throughout the film and drinking herself to death, or Megan who committed herself to sexual activities to forget her past life or even Anna who envied the married life but secretly wanted to be mistress. Their was a good film lurking around beneath the surface with these deeply complicated and morally complex characters. But that wasn’t the film made and maybe not even the book written. This film was all about the "who done it" and I couldn’t care less about it.

It would have been far more engaging and interesting if the film was treated entirely as a drama with us getting to know better the three main woman characters and how they classify their lives to be and how other people around them see them. Then maybe half way through odd things start happening, secrets are revealed and a murder happens. Then everyone is confronted with the event and has to deal with. Additionally, why did Rachel need to be the main character? Couldn't have Anna been easily the main focus of the film. She is the one who got the great guy, home, baby and married life and is invaded by the crazy and bitter drunk woman spewing lies and trying to wreck everything apart. Couldn't the big twist have been the same but played from this more interesting angle?


Good thrillers are those where the tension is so great and where you have invested completely with the story that the possible loss of the main character at the hands of the villain is just unthinkable. Sadly, this is not the case with the film as we don't care enough about these characters to invest with their moral choices in it. And the route taken in terms of the character focus and execution was nothing but unimpressive and insulting to the talented cast and the actual story that could have been instead told.

Personal Rating:

review by P K

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