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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Girl on the Train | Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez | Review

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3 Chicks Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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The Girl on the Train | Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez | Review

It sucks to be Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt).  The lonely divorced, unable-to-conceive sad sack spends her time on a commuter train, gazing longingly at two particular houses that she whizzes past on her way to Manhattan each day.  One of the houses belongs to Megan (Haley Bennett) half of a young couple that apparently doesn’t care who sees them getting romantic – or naked.

The other house, just two doors down, used to belong to Rachel, but now contains ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and their baby.  Rachel can’t stop staring at (and longing for) both scenarios.  Talk about masochism. Rachel dulls some of this roaring emotional pain with a water bottle full of vodka.  She drinks herself into blackouts accompanied by flashes of violent past encounters in sharp shards of jigsaw memory.

Megan is a young nanny working for Anna, who is married to Tom.  Megan’s husband Scott (Luke Evans) wants a child and thinks the job will make Megan want one, too.  Wrong.  Visits to her therapist Dr. Abdic (Édgar Ramírez) provide a window into her unhappiness as well as a tragic back story.

Tom cheated on Rachel with Anna, ruining their marriage.  Now he and Anna live in the big house with their baby, providing ample salt for Rachel’s wounds.  The water bottle is a constant companion, as are unsettling memories of ugly scenes, rage, and impulsive behavior.  Even Rachel’s friend Cathy (Laura Prepon) with whom she lives, can’t handle the sloppy, delusional drunk she’s become.

After Rachel witnesses Megan kissing a strange man at her home one day (from her seat on the train) she binge drinks out of misplaced rage into blackout, waking up with a bleeding head wound.  Fleeting memories of a violent encounter ensue.  Meanwhile, Megan disappears, and a savvy detective (Allison Janney) tries to piece together Rachel’s fragmented memories.

The plot twists and turns sharply from there as we follow Rachel’s journey to the truth about what happened to Megan and her role in it.  To say anything else would court spoilers, but lots of surprises, revelations, and reversals await, with a literal twist at the end that brought a nervous, incredulous snicker from the audience.

Emily Blunt’s performance is the draw here; everything else is, as they say, window dressing.  Blunt is the mesmerizing force, the almost palpable, oozing angst, tortured by memory and near madness. Allison Janney brings a world-weary believability to the story as does a surprising cameo by Lisa Kudrow.  Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett play characters that are hard to empathize with let alone care about.

Working from British author Paula Hawkins’ 2015 bestselling novel, director Tate Taylor (The Help) and screenwriter, Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary) bounce the narrative back and forth in flashback in an effort to explain the story’s far-reaching tentacles.  This can and has been done skillfully in the past (Godfather Pt. II, Sophie’s Choice, Memento) but here it is an odd, almost hyperactive intrusion at oddly timed intervals.

Exploring boundaries, entitlements, betrayals, and infidelities The Girl on the Train begins as a forlorn mystery but soon trails off into a misogynistic melodrama.  It holds interest through morbid curiosity that, once satisfied, is found to be not that satisfying after all.
With only one passenger on track, it’s no surprise that this journey eventually derails.


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