Secrets, Lies, Mysteries

Emily Blunt is ‘The Girl on the Train’

Oct. 7, 2016
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girlonthetrain

Railroad trains have been settings for mysteries since the days of Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock. A train is a compartmentalized world unto itself, moving through the outer world slowly enough for passengers to catch a glimpse of strange doings outside. Adapted from Paula Hawkins bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train stars Emily Blunt as Rachel, a troubled woman who thinks she saw something while riding the commuter train along the shore into Manhattan.

Rachel is a lonely person, her pained and sorrowful face pressed against the window while imagining the lives in the dream houses she passes on the way. She notices one particular woman and her husband, and begins to invent their happy life. “She’s what I lost—everything I want to be,” Rachel tells herself. It turns out the woman’s name is Megan (Haley Bennett). Soon enough Megan will disappear and foul play is suspected. 

A compelling psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train builds interest and suspense in spite (and maybe because) of its unconventional structure. Aside from the train itself, nothing moves in a straight line. The story cuts back and forth across time with memories illuminated in quick flashbacks and Rachel’s alcohol-induced blackouts represented by blurs and painful close-ups. Although Rachel is the protagonist and the story’s through-line, other points of view are heard, namely that of Megan and the woman Rachel’s ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) married, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Megan worked as Anna’s nanny, but that’s not the only business she conducted around the house. 

Director Tate Taylor skillfully edits the pieces together into a tightly fitted puzzle of deceit, delusion, encounters, recollections and false memories. At bottom The Girl on the Train becomes the story of three women who allowed themselves to be used by a brutally voracious man. Along the way its also about secrets and lies, and wonders how well we know the people closest to us.

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