“The Girl On The Train”


Rachel, Anna, and Megan are all emotionally unhealthy females, but ” The Girl On The Train”‘s  play to gender politics is heavily weighted against abusive males. Despite comparisons to last year’s  “Gone Girl”, the going motivation here is not money, but power and sex. Let there be no doubt about it, the devil is a he!

The woman are devilish. Rachel (Emily Blunt) is obsessed with her ex-husband and has turned to alcohol and stalking and hang-up phone calls. Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) is the new wife of Rachel’s ex.  Anna was Rachel and Tom’s ( Justin Theroux) Century  21 real eastate agent, who now has a baby and no job, but needs Megan (Haley Bennett) to fold the laundry and tend to the baby while she naps. Megan, the nanny, who is scarred by her own infant drowning in the bathtub as she was holding her, is pregnant with Tom’s baby. Megan lives with possessive Scott (Luke Evans). Megan turns up missing and we try to unravel the motivations. Add hunky shrink Kamel Abdicate ( Edgar Ramirez) and the viewers are ready to seek counsel for their own depression.

I am glad I did not read Paula Hawkins’ novel. The first person narratives are shallow: Rachel:” I am not the girl I used to be. She is what I lost. She is everything I want to be.” Really, married to a violent man who lost his job because of his inability to keep his pants zipped ?!  Megan: ” I can’t just be a wife. The boring routine. This town is a fucking baby factory. The only time I feel like myself is when I am running.” Anna spends much of her time trying to crack husband Tom’s computer password just in case his amorous past is presenting a pattern! Duh!!

Lisa Kudrow as Monica has the kindest, most genuine female role;and Laura Prepon of “Orange Is The New Black” fame, has the second. Although after two years of housing and supporting Rachel, the actual girl on the train, she asks her to leave. Neither are on screen long. Allison Janny plays a one-dimensional detective, who is cynical at best.

The psychiatrist is empathetic to Rachel’s addictions and her abuse. He is on to the mantra of “Forgive yourself”. Something he has no trouble doing in rationalizing having sex with a  damaged patient. None of these upper Hudson Valley inhabitants would you choose as friends or as psychiatrists.

Director Tate Taylor holds the film’s suspense well, and Emily Blunt produced facial expressions that I have never seen her display before. As an alcoholic with a penchant for angry displays and blackouts, she is both scary and vulnerable. The violence and sexual displays seemed B- movie grade all the way. The worldview is dour here. Motherhood is shown as daunting even in the first year, and the women hold fantasy lives dear. There doesn’t seem to be a man around that can control his libido.

Pure rage and violent revenge seem endemic. The jumbled chronological order from “six months ago” to “a year ago ” to flashbacks of years back are both lazy and jarring. The despicable Tom’s words of ” In a way, you killed her.” Got laughs from the audience, as did Anna’s final corkscrew twist. Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson may not have had much to work with, but riding back and forth daily from the Hudson River suburbs to New York City and back should produce more than a shaking lipstick application and a sippy cup of vodka-induced angst.