The Girl On The Train

Director: Tate Taylor (2016) BBFC cert: 15

Calling at all stations to murder via stalking, infidelity and kidnap, this chilly mystery drama still manages to be a very dull journey.

Not afraid to upset the hardcore fans of the best selling book on which it’s based, the setting has been changed from the UK to the US. Yet Brit born and naturalised US citizen Emily Blunt doesn’t mind the Atlantic gap, being suitably downbeat and occasionally manic as Rachel, the girl on the train.

While on her daily commute to New York, Rachel sees what she thinks is evidence linked to the disappearance of a local girl. Megan was a nanny to the daughter of Anna, now happily married to Rachel’s ex husband. Haley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson form a formidable acting trio alongside Blunt.

Best known as Phoebe from TV’s Friends, Lisa Kudrow’s brief appearance makes you wish you were watching that show instead, it doesn’t help she’s playing a character called Monica opposite one called Rachel. Although always a welcome screen presence, employing an actress whose career has been defined by light comedy jars with the resolutely grim mood.

As a police detective, Allison Janney explains to Rachel and to us, exactly how increasingly preposterous her story and behaviour are. It’s great to have a film with this many dominant female roles.

I imagine the cop character is supposed to represent the perception of the tendency of state authorities’ to victim blame in domestic abuse cases. But such is the far fetched nature of the story, you can’t help but nod along with her unsympathetic incredulity.

These ridiculous plot twists means we can’t take any of it seriously. It fails in every way to be a hard hitting examination of domestic abuse. And taken as a rabid potboiler, it lacks the trashy sense of fun and gleeful malice which made David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014) such an entertaining watch.

Lies, memories and fantasies combine as the silliness unfolds from the differing point of view of the three connected women. We see how they perceive one another is far different to the truth of their circumstances.

The extreme dullness of the villain may well be a comment of the banal nature of everyday evil, but I greeted the unmasking with a shrug of indifference. Plus the silly finale caused giggles at the world premiere, which I can’t imagine is the response the film-makers were aiming for.

The story pootles along through a flat landscape of scenes devoid of big screen spectacle and it feels like a lacklustre Sunday evening TV mini-series whodunnit.

But not one worth missing Poldark for.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

 

 

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