Girl on the Train, the - Missed Her Stop
| The spoiler free review is that The Girl on the Train is a wasted opportunity, a good idea wrapped up in a poorly executed melodrama. One good performance is wasted in what is an overwrought potboiler. There is probably little more to say without spoiling the "mystery" so if you haven't seen the film and want to see it, stop reading here. From here on out I will start spoiling details.
Emily Blunt does herself proud by pulling off a strong performance despite what the film has to offer her. It is her character, her arc showing a victim find her voice, find her strength, which is the saving grace of The Girl on the Train. She crafts a well rounded, intricate character in Rachel, pulling off a true to life portrayal of someone suffering years of abuse.
You see this is the essential essence of The Girl on the Train. It uses a sex thriller motif to explore the idea of powerlessness of an abusive relationship. I think there is something brilliant about that combination, something essentially true about the use of this genre and its tropes to explore the way someone's victimization can be so completely destructive, and the ways that person might find their way out of that abusive cycle. Its too bad the film does such a bad job of execution. If only the film was as strong as Blunt's performance, it would have been a far more successful film.
There are endless comparisons with Gone Girl but I think that is a complete distraction. The films' objectives are so vastly different it is an unfair comparison. This is the story of woman who for years was emotionally abused, gaslighted, beaten down to the point she barely functions. The story effectively explores the ways victims complaints are dismissed, minimalized, ignored. She is discredited, even in her own heart and mind. The arc of the story, one that sees her see through that abuse, rebuild her own sense of self, and begin her recovery is a remarkable one. One the film lets down but consistently turning to cheap thrills over scenes that would really resonate.
But it doesn't. It goes for amateurish shocks instead and ends up leaving us all feeling a little violated in the process, like we watched something dirty instead of something powerful. It is a missed opportunity to tell a much better story.