The Girl on the Train Review – When Your Memories Aren’t Your Own

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What do you do when your memories may not be you own? The life you lead is in fact a game of pretend, where everyday on the train you pass by a house belonging to what you consider to be the perfect couple. Imagine one day, you see that couple living a lie and days later find yourself in the middle of a police investigation involving the wife’s disappearance.

Based on the wildly popular, wonderfully crafted 2015 novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train is a thriller mystery that surpasses the psychological deceit of Gone Girl where alcoholism, sex, violence, betrayal and marriages reign supreme.

Emily Blunt stars as Rachel Watson, a divorcee who rides the Metro North everyday to work at a public relations firm in New York City. It is here where, for a few fleeting seconds, she sees a married couple on their porch and begins to fantasize about them, given them names and occupations.

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However, all is not what it seems when one day she thinks shes sees this couple living a deceitful life days before the wife is reported missing. Feeling a connection to the couple, she decides to take it upon herself to get to the bottom of the wife’s disappearance. This opens a door to past transgressions that will affect the lives of several households living on the same street.

What makes it worse is that Rachel’s own memories are betraying her. Describing her as a raging alcoholic would be putting it mildly. However, solving this disappearance is the one thing that can redeem her spirit and give her life purpose. “They’re what I lost, they’re everything I want to be,” she proclaims. But how can she remember when she’s unable to trust her own mind — a mind full of rage and lies?

The Girl on the Train is full of plot twists that will keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Wonderfully adapted, director Taylor Tate has replaced London life with the smoky haze of upstate New York, where everything and everyone has to be ideal. Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), as the mysterious woman first seen on the balcony of Rachel’s ideal home, just across the train tracks, appears to be the woman who has it all. She is delicate blonde perfection, carefully storing away her impulsiveness. Hipwell acts with her eyes, where every glance is a pained expression similar to the suffocating life she lives.

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However, it is Blunt whose performance is a scene-stealer. At the center she is sweet and pathetic — brought to her knees by alcoholism and the emotional pain she carries. She is violent in her actions, her words and is succumbed by rage. Destroying everything in her path, the audience can’t help but to root for her and slightly fear her. Either way she’s unraveling and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Taylor has the ability to draw sympathy from the women on screen, utilizing well-crafted cinematography of Charlotte Bruus Christensen and close-up shots where all actors take great use of their time on screen. Despite dragging in some spots, just like the novel, the movie is told by a series of untrustworthy narrators, who change the point-of-view before the audience could lose interest. Composed by Danny Elfman, each narrator is hauntingly captivating, taking the audience inside the mind of the character. While The Girl on the Train is not as cleverly humorous of Gone Girl, it is bitter in its humor and is able to cast a spell on the audience even though they may have been manipulated.

Easily one of the best movies of the year, The Girl on the Train is one plot twist after another that fails to disappoint even the most jaded movie-goer.

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