Film Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ Shows Off Emily Blunt’s Powerhouse Abilities but Little Else

The Girl on the Train

girl_on_the_train_ver2The reviews are flooding in for Tate Taylor‘s latest, “The Girl on the Train.” The film boasts an all-out amazing performance from Emily Blunt, but that’s about the only major highlight from this frustrating and very predictable thriller. Co-stars Haley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson also manage to shine in a script that’s written by Erin Cressida Wilson. She adapts the film based on the book by Paula Hawkins, and never fleshes out any real or believable character motivations. Meanwhile, Taylor’s direction struggles to find its footing, and it merely scratches the surface of compelling and focused filmmaking.

“The Girl on the Train” tells the story of a divorcee named Rachel. She soon becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation regarding a couple. This all takes place a few houses down from her ex-husband and his new family.

With a career that has spawned some enchanting turns like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Sicario,” Blunt may have delivered her finest performance yet. Getting swallowed into Rachel and her deepest, darkest demons, Blunt manages to rise above the lack of development or short-changed tropes that the script provides. She rips into her scenes in a way we haven’t seen before, blazing a trail for more dynamic and adventurous roles for her in the future.

girlonthetrainBennett maximizes most of her efforts until her character’s motivations are revealed and quickly abandoned. You can almost see the numbing emotion taking over her facial muscles. It will be interesting to see more from her. Ferguson almost retreats into a Sienna Miller-American Sniper-type of annoying, nagging wife but with merit. The men in the story are almost unrealistically aggressive cartoon versions of men. As Tom, Justin Theroux plays up the suave, charismatic, but seemingly helpful, husband/ex. Luke Evans just plays Scott as a toddler having a tantrum. Edgar Ramirez puts down a flag that says he is worth much more than this. He is cornered into the “sexy Latin doctor” role and doesn’t really have anything more to do than that.

Taylor manages some technical aspects successfully. Cinematography by the great Charlotte Bruus Christensen is serviceable to the intrigue of the story while Danny Elfman‘s score is the most un-Danny Elfman thing he’s done in ages.

“The Girl on the Train” derails early on in the film. You figure everything out by mid-film before waiting an additional 100 minutes for the filmmakers to confirm it. It’s a huge misstep for Taylor, and perhaps much too dark for him to tackle at this point. Sticking with uplifting films with important messages like “The Help” is much more his speed. That being said, it’ll make for a trashy and acceptable TBS/TNT staple for the next ten years.

“The Girl on the Train” is distributed by Universal Pictures and hits theaters on Oct. 7.

GRADE: (★★)