By Sandra Kraisirideja
Emily Blunt gives a remarkable performance in The Girl on the Train.
She is so good that it was hard to believe I was watching the same actress from Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario. Blunt is an incredibly versatile actress and it would not surprise me if she became the next Meryl Streep. She is that good when it comes to inhabiting a character.
While Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario gave Blunt a chance to show off her action skills, The Girl on the Train reveals her ability to play somebody who is not in control of her own life.
Based on the 2015 bestseller by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train falls into the same mystery, thriller genre as Gone Girl, but the stories are very different.
I’m sure it’s not an accident that the marketing for The Girl on the Train has allusions to Gone Girl, last year’s hit that was also about a woman’s disappearance and murder.
There are certainly shades of similarity between the two books. Both stories focus on the disappearance of a woman and each features strong female characters. It’s obvious that things are also not what they seem and it’s fun to see how the story unfolds.
It’s an interesting plot device to have the narrator/protagonist have personal demons that cause them to be somewhat untrustworthy. The other movie in which this strategy worked in favor of the storyline was Memento. Guy Ritchie’s character suffers from short term memory loss but the audience has no other person to rely on with regard to the story. The same is true for Blunt’s character, Rachel. I found myself rooting for her even though I wasn’t sure she could be trusted.
Thankfully it’s not necessary to have read the book to enjoy the movie. I didn’t read the book and knew very little about the story except that it involved a murder and that the main character may or may not have seen what happened.
Director Tate Taylor, working from a script by Erin Cressida Wilson, knows what he’s doing and the story never feels muddled or confusing. Danny Elfman provides a fitting score.
The movie works so well because of Blunt’s performance but she is also aided by her fellow female co-stars including Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Laura Prepon and Allison Janney. Even Lisa Kudrow, who has a bit part, stands out.
The mostly female cast definitely overshadow the men, who are depicted as overbearing, sex-crazed maniacs.
There is an interesting subtext regarding motherhood in the movie. How these women deal with their feelings toward motherhood motivates them in different ways.
Blunt’s character turns to alcohol to avoid the crushing disappointment she feels for not being able to get pregnant; Ferguson takes on the role of stay-at-home mom with delight but there are signs that she struggles with the duties of caring for a newborn; Bennett represents those women who want to stay as far away from motherhood as possible.
The women are pitted against each other for the entire movie. Only when they come together and allow themselves to see each other’s point of view do they find peace.