Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Movie with Abe: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
Directed by Tate Taylor Released October 7, 2016

There are so many movies coming out every week these days that it stands to reason that one or two will have the same name. With all the countries in the world producing films factored in, it’s even more likely. This reviewer strongly remembers the 2010 French film “La Fille du RER,” released in the United States as “The Girl on the Train,” which focused on a non-Jewish young French woman who invented stories of an anti-Semitic attack against her on a train. It’s hard not to compare it with this far more high-profile 2016 film of the same name, and, sadly, this newer film doesn’t hold a candle to the “original.”

The plot isn’t all that different in its origin, though this film is based on a popular novel by Paula Hawkins rather than inspired by true stories of events that took place in France. The crucial similarity here is a young woman who rides a train regularly and whose version of events is highly suspect. The difference is that Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is far less trustworthy to begin with, mainly due to her alcohol addiction and her recent divorce from her husband (Justin Theroux). Two other women, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and Megan (Haley Bennett), factor heavily into the story as the case of one missing person spirals into something dark, mysterious, and unsettling.

It’s not easy to write a summary of this film, and that’s mostly because it’s a mess. Its plot is confusing at times, but most importantly, the structure of the film doesn’t lend itself well to a narrative. While it is meant to offer some information and purposely withhold other equally important facts and confirmation, the result is disjointed and off-putting. Rachel is at a loss to describe what is going on, and it’s hard to imagine that viewers will be any more up for the task based on the way this film presents its developments.

Blunt is a great actress who has been on the verge of the role that will earn her an Oscar nomination for years. This performance netted her a SAG nomination, and while she does commit to it, it’s not her best work primarily because the character is so uneven and unpredictable. Neither of the other leading ladies manage to steal the film from her, and everyone in the cast – including the usually dependable Theroux and Edgar Ramirez – can’t save a film that doesn’t really offer a compelling case for its existence (sure, people loved the book). This reviewer’s advice is to go back and find the other “The Girl on the Train” instead – it’s a far more fulfilling experience all-around.


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