I was wary of the trailers alone. “The Girl on the Train” movie is based on the bestselling novel of the same name, by Paula Hawkins. And, apparently, it’s been read by every suburban housewife in the country–another blaring warning sign. “Gone Girl”, a 2014 David Fincher film, based on the book by Gillian Flynn, had the exact same vibe–and I didn’t very much like that thriller. “The Girl on the Train” adaptation is even worse. Not even Emily Blunt can save it–but I applaud her for giving it her all. Given the way director Tate Taylor directs this trash, it was an Sisyphean task.
The plot lies heavily on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, except this time the witness to a crime is a female commuter named Rachel (Ms. Blunt…solid), who is voyeuring people in their homes, as her train passes them on the nearby tracks. Oh, and maybe Rachel drinks a little. Or a lot. Also, her spying just happens to be on her old neighborhood, and folks that she actually knows. One is her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), along with his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Another are former neighbors Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). And then…something happens. Could Rachel have reliably witnessed it?
How convoluted and convenient this screenplay (by Erin Cressida Wilson) is. Also, it stalls on more than one occasion, before barreling into outright ridiculousness. Lukewarm narration, an overbaked story, impossibly pretty people–who bought this shit? Real human beings just don’t behave like this. I’m told it works better on the page…okay. Then I’ll place a good deal of blame on the limited director, Mr. Taylor. His instincts are all wrong, as proved by his other hit book adaptation (2011’s “The Help”). He zigs, when he should zag, and he throws wildly, when he should hold back. Ms. Blunt, and the cast, deserves better.