Universal(NEW YORK) — Based on the best-selling psychological thriller by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train stars Emily Blunt as Rachel, who has a cornucopia of issues. She lives in New York City and commutes by train up and down the Hudson River, where she peers out of the window, most notably at the house in which she used to live with her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux). He now lives in the house with his new wife, Anna, (Rebecca Ferguson), and their baby. Rachel also watches the neighbors’ house and fantasizes about the lives of the aesthetically pleasing couple who lives there, mostly focused on Megan (Haley Bennett).
Rachel is also a raging alcoholic, who stalks Tom and Anna — and not just by looking at their house from the train. She shows up in their neighborhood and constantly checks out Tom’s Facebook page.
We get glimpses into Anna and Megan’s lives, too. Megan served as Anna and Tom’s nanny, and her husband, Scott (Luke Evans), is trying to pressure Megan into having a baby. Rachel assumes Megan and Scott are the perfect couple, but Megan’s in therapy and seems to have the hots for her therapist.
As Rachel’s alcoholism deepens, she sees something that sends her into a tailspin and appears primed to take out her anger on Megan. And then Megan winds up dead.
There’s an absolutely absurd aspect to this story. I did not read the book but the way Rachel stalks Tom and Anna here would never, ever fly. Tom defends Rachel’s behavior and prevents Anna from taking action against her, but Rachel’s actions are absolutely, 100-percent indefensible. To watch this movie and believe Anna would agree to never take any sort of legal action against Rachel is the same kind of decision you make when you watch Star Wars and accept that the Force is real.
There is one thing that helps keep your disbelief suspended, and that’s Emily Blunt’s tour de force performance. She’s nothing short of amazing, losing herself in a complex character who shouldn’t be likable but is grounded in something very real and human, demanding our empathy.
Director Tate Taylor, who’s also given us The Help and Get On Up, doesn’t always strike the right tone, on occasion turning a psychological thriller into a Calvin Klein Obsession commercial. But again, it’s Blunt’s performance that makes The Girl on the Train worth your while.
Three and a half out of five stars.
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