Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Movie Review: The Girl on the Train

This book was read during our book club. For whatever reason, perhaps I was gun shy after reading Gone Girl and hating it, I skipped. If you didn’t read the book, I don’t think you’re missing too much, however you won’t get all the nuances of the characters. In a way, this story is about a reformed drunk, but that’s cutting a lot of other stuff out. If you did read the book, I’m told the story mostly sticks to what happens, yet leaves a lot of details out, as per usual. This could devolve into a rant about how Hollywood ruins everything it touches, but that would require more than one blog post.

The movie begins with Emily Blunt riding the train to and from NYC (the book was set in London, but they moved it because: Hollywood knows best). Rachel (Blunt’s character) sees this girl out the window of the train and her imagination runs wild, concocting a story for her that is based partially on a reality that for reasons we sort of learn later, she can’t remember. The girl goes missing and Rachel creates an entire narrative about what might have happened. Her drunkenness creates obvious issues and the cops begin to think she’s involved.

Part of the frustration of this movie, and Gone Girl, is that it uses the unreliable narrator. We, as the audience, can’t trust the narrative perspective to be accurate or truthful. I’ve read books that execute this well, in a movie format, I’m not sure I like the effect. There are a lot of scenes that are disjointed or hazy, with Blunt stumbling through dialogue with other characters as if it is the first time they’ve spoken about a particular topic. I know I’m not distilling this very well, but that is a direct reflection of the movie, which was executed somewhat poorly.

Emily Blunt is a great actress. There is little she can’t do well, but if the direction and story are so consumed with holding onto a surprise ending, then that becomes the focus, as it did in this movie. This isn’t a horror movie, it is a mystery. Yes, at one point we do wonder if Blunt killed the girl, but that becomes less and less likely. The twists and turns felt more annoying than intriguing. I don’t know if I just found everyone unlikeable, but the movie was meh, at best. I saw it for $6 and I wouldn’t do that again. As for my Hina test: there were only white people in this movie. Even though the movie centered around a woman, she was a bedraggled, weak character throughout. In no way did this movie represent diversity or women in a positive or fair way.

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