Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train offers up a few Hitchcockian inspired twists, but never explores the psychological torment or creates the level of suspense as accomplished in Rare Window, an obvious inspiration. While somewhat of a disappointment (particularly for fans of the book), director Tate Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson delivered a serviceable, middle-of-the-pack mystery.
Devastated by her recent divorce, gaunt and hollow-eyed Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) continues her commute to New York City from a dark, dreary room at a friend’s house, even though she lost her job months ago. Now, Rachel fills her days with very specific hobbies. Never without the requisite bottle of vodka (often disguised in a water bottle), she sketches in a notebook and spies on the house she used to share with her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux). He now shares the house with his current wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and their infant daughter. Just a couple of houses down, Rachel spots a younger couple who appear to be completely in love. Recognizing them as having what she once did, Rachel becomes obsessed with them, going so far as to give them fake names and occupations while she spies on them for a few seconds each day. Things take an unexpected turn when Rachel witnesses what appears to be a betrayal by a member of the young couple. When the young woman disappears shortly thereafter, Rachel goes to the police with the information she has, unaware she’s made herself a prime suspect in the disappearance.
Unfortunately, the films convoluted narration style drains a lot of the suspense from the story. While we are introduced to Rachel in the film’s opening moments through her own narration, later, her narration is shelved in favor of a more neutral point-of-view. The result is a flat, less dynamic story. Having the drunk, hungover Rachel relate these events as they unfolded could have resulted in some genuine truths and “I didn’t see that coming,” moments. Instead, the twists aren’t particularly surprising.
Nonetheless, Emily Blunt turns in an excellent performance. She knows how to play drunk. The vacant stare, the clumsy walk, the slurred speech. Given the right script, it’s reasonable to think she’ll have an Oscar one day. Rebecca Ferguson isn’t given a lot to do here, but she continues to show star potential. In the interest of not giving anything away, I’ll just say, Justin Theroux continues to prove he’s a versatile talent.
In the supporting roles, Harley Bennett gets to heat up the screen as the wife in Rachel ‘perfect’ couple, who also happens to be a hot mess. She gets to be sent and unstable. While the audience gets some idea why she is the way she is, it’s far from the whole story. The always reliable Alison Janney turns up as a police detective who believes Rachel has something to hide.
The Girl on the Train could have been better. As it is, Tate Taylor has delivered an occasionally predictable thriller that features solid performances across the board. While fans of the source material might be disappointed, the film is definitely worth a look.
Shot on film, this 4K transfer icons outstanding. Emily Blunt pasty, tired look is immediately evident. Every hair, pore and blemish is on display. Even Blunt’s dry, chapped lips look like they hurt. Clothing, fabrics and other textures jump off the screen. The depth of field is impressive, you need only look at landscapes visible out the window on Rachel’s daily commute. Black levels are deep and inky throughout. Intentionally dark, color may seem dull, but it looks as it should. There are digital anomalies or other issues with the transfer.
The DTS:X Master Audio Surround track is as impressive as the presentation. The dynamics here are on point, allowing Danny Elfman’s score to wash over you. Atmospherics are given ample space, without ever trampling over the dialogue. LFE is subtle here, but it does kick in during the train scenes.
English SDH, English, French and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available on the included Blu-ray, with the exception of the Audio Commentary which is also available on the 4K Disc:
- Audio Commentary with Director Tate Taylor: Taylor discusses the making of the film and takes us behind the scenes a bit. He discusses the cast, the story, locations and the details listeners have come to expect. While fine, there’s nothing particularly unique here.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 17:38) 14 deleted and extended scenes: Rachel Rides the Train, Rachel Arrives at Grand Central, Megan Screams as Train Passes, Megan’s Flashback, Megan Leaves Anna’s House, Rachel Pees in the Street, Rachel Almost Gets Hit By a Taxi, Rachel Takes Selfies, Rachel Drinks in the Bathroom, Anna Looks Out Her Window, Rachel Sees Man in Suit, Tom and Anna Discuss Moving, Tom’s Request and Tom Begs Anna for Forgiveness.
- The Women Behind The Girl (HD, 5:04) Author Paula Hawkins and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson discuss writing the novel, the adaptation process and the importance of maintaining character integrity in the film. Director Tate Taylor also discusses working with them to make sure his vision for the film was represented.
- On Board The Train (HD, 11:25) We get a behind-the-scenes look at the ensemble cast of The Girl on the Train. Director Tate Taylor and Producer Mark Platt discuss the specific nuances associated with each of the cast members’ performances and Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Allison Janney, Laura Prepon, Lisa Kudrow, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans and Edgar Ramirez take fans through the process of creating their characters.
- Blu-ray of the film.
- Digital HD.