“The Girl On the Train” is a Lifetime movie-esque disaster

“The Girl On the Train”

Rachel Watson (Blunt) is a walking disaster.  She’s divorced, an alcoholic, and is fantasizing about the neighborhood she passes on a daily basis.  Her ex-husband, Tom (Theroux), is happily re-married to his mistress, Anna (Ferguson), with a baby girl.  Two houses down, Scott (Evans) and Megan (Bennett) Hipwell live the seemingly happy marriage with Megan working as the nanny for the Watsons.  This all falls apart when Megan goes missing, a few days after she is seen by Rachel getting close to another man (Ramirez).  Detective Riley (Janney) thinks Rachel is somewhat responsible.

Just like in all my reviews, I’m not going to mince words here: The Girl On the Train is trash.  Total, unequivocal, vile trash.  About 35 minutes in, I wrote in my notebook, “If I didn’t have to review this, I’d leave.”  If I were you, I’d take the bus as far away from this monstrosity as possible.

Now why would I make such accusations about someone’s labor of love for months or years?  For starters, every single character is loathsome.  For instance, the three leading “ladies” are three of the most stereotypical soap opera caricatures possible.  How soapy are they?  I’m shocked that they don’t slip on all those hardwood floors in every scene.  Rachel is the standard drunk who morphs into another female stereotype that I can’t reveal as it is a major third act spoiler.  Anna doesn’t want to be a mother.  She loved the idea of being the mistress and enjoyed the role of the childless wife.  Now?  Not so much.  Then there’s Megan.  Poor, poor Megan, stuck in a beautiful house with a sexy husband who allows her to only have a part-time job. But she’s bored.  Bored with her sex life, tired of the talk of having a baby, sick of having to suffer from her past.

It’s so maddening to have to sit there and watch these characters “suffer.”  Worse than these characters is their dull, suburban paradise overseen by director Tate Taylor.  There is not one single shot that is awe-inspiring.  Not a single cut that makes you think that this movie is anything more than a big budget Lifetime Movie of the Week.  A big chuck of the blame belongs to screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, who tries to convert Paula Hawkins’ use of three unreliable narrators onto the screen.  One is tough enough but Wilson makes three seem impossible.  The result is a totally disjointed narrative that, for example, makes it appear that the resolution of Megan’s journey was actually the dream of another character.

The movie wants to be seen as a serious drama but features so many laugh-out-loud moments that I couldn’t keep up with writing them down.  Two that I can recall are Megan’s over-the-top monologue/seduction in her therapist’s office and a shot of Scott stretching in a manner that reveals his midriff & the waistband of his briefs for longer than anyone has ever stretched in that manner.

The Girl On the Train features Danny Elfman’s worst musical score that I can remember: a bland, psychological thriller theme that would lull one to sleep in the theatre.  The lone bright spot for 110 minutes is Emily Blunt, who gives it her all despite the material being way below her.  Rebecca Ferguson, who was the breakout in last year’s Mission: Impossible entry, is unrecognizable but wasted as Anna.  The men are relegated to being totally forgettable.  Then there’s Haley Bennett, who looks like she once finished runner-up in a Jennifer Lawrence look-alike contest.  Every time she was on-screen, I wondered if Taylor paid her an extra 2% to fluctuate the crazy not from scene to scene but from take to take.

And I think that’s how this movie should be remembered: as an unmitigated disaster of a major release that makes me question the sanity of major studios when they greenlight such garbage.  Heavy on the sleaze, heavier on the vodka and very light on the quality.

0 out of 5