The Girl on the Train was marketed in the same realm as Gone Girl, evoking the same breathtaking anticipation in the trailer alone, not just leaving viewers asking whodunit, but more like whatthefuckisgoingon.
It does succeed in resembling Gone Girl insomuch as the fact it’s a classic whodunit with a unreliable female lead, but that’s as far along the journey of imitation that this train goes.
In this newer thriller, the storyline is a lot more tangled and it’s easy to become confused; although this is kind of the point with this genre, it’s not as slick as its smash hit predecessor.
Rachel’s (Emily Blunt) flashbacks – probably used as a tool to reflect her unstable state of mind – fragment the plot and despite being given an overview of the plot in an almost patronising manner at the start, we don’t truly know anything about the characters or the storyline and therefore we have to piece parts together that have been handed to us by an unreliable narrator.
After turning to drink when a revelation rots their marriage, Rachel casual-mindedly rides the New York Amtrak every morning to a job that no longer exists while obsessing over Megan (Haley Bennett), a woman she glimpses on a daily basis through her train window as though she wished it were a mirror. Megan seems to have the perfect marriage and as Rachel refuses to let go of her own marital bliss, she projects her every thought onto the strangers, consumed by a life that doesn’t exist.
Although we get snippets of Rachel’s past, the main question that grows stronger as the plot evolves (and one that Nikki Grahame perfected back in 2006) is: ‘who IS she?’ – as the viewer, we’re never quite sure if Rachel is an alcoholic suffering with the inability to move on from her own trauma, or if she is a monster.
I found some moments relatable and tragic at the same time. It’s entirely credible that this self-destruction, brought on by mental abuse, could happen. With today’s social media phenomenon, it’s also incredibly easy to fall into the trap of following someone’s every move and becoming obsessed with their life without even realising it. There’s probably a lot of ‘Rachels’ out there who we wouldn’t even think twice about.
The fake images that people present of themselves on social media is reflected in Rachel’s fleeting glance of Megan; you can direct what people see in the short period that they look into your life.
Emily Blunt has long since moved away from being that ‘rom-com chick’ and plays her character incredibly. The pure desperation and tragic loss she portrays is expertly done and the frustration brought about by her blackouts and genuine self-doubt is believable.
Watching the trailers beforehand, at no point did I expect Rachel (Emily Blunt) to be an unstable drunk. Although the mystery did start to untangle, for the majority of the film it was still difficult to determine who was the true villain. The lasting message surrounding the ideals of a perfect marriage linger: everyone wants something different and someone’s ‘perfect’ may be someone else’s despair.