This exposition-laden suspense thriller is so poorly adapted from its novel source material (by Paula Hawkins) that you can’t follow it. Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (“Secretary”) doesn’t begin to edit out subplots and secondary characters that cloud the story. Characters have far too little interaction over the course of a flashback-heavy drama that leaves you cold to their suburban issues adultery, alcoholism, and neglect.
Emily Blunt is the only thing this movie has going for it. It’s a sad state of affairs when the always-fascinating Blunt is relegated to making movies as weakly constructed as this one. Her persuasive performance as our unreliable narrator at least makes “Girl on a Train” watchable.
Voice-over narration weighs down the sluggishly paced action as we’re introduced to Rachel Watson (Blunt), an unemployed alcoholic who rides the train into Manhattan everyday to cover up her pointless existence to her female roommate. Rachel lost her perfect husband Tom (Justin Theroux) to a home-wrecker named Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Tom has also been busy schtupping his wife’s nanny Megan (Haley Bennett), the neighborhood nymphomaniac, and any other woman he can get his hands on. Work life be damned.
To say that the storytelling at work is convoluted, is a gross understatement. Time unfolds in chronological order from six months ago. Regular text announcements cue the audience as to which period the movie has finally advanced to. Rachel would love to extricate Anna from the home that she [Rachel] furnished. Still, Rachel is content to imagine what it would be like to live as her former neighbor Megan and her boyfriend do, in their house just two doors down from Rachel's old place where Tom and Anna are raising their newborn baby.
At 112 arduous minutes, this movie needed some more editorial time under the knife. Any comparisons to Hitchcock are purely coincidental in a movie that will have you scratching your head about which blonde woman is which (there are three, and they look alike).
Director Tate Taylor (“The Help”) fails to sustain dramatic tension. The whole movie is at one dirge-like tempo, with even less visual interest put on the screen. “The Girl on the Train” is a disappointing movie.
Rated R. 112 mins. (C-) (One Star — out of five / no halves)
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