The Girl On The Train (2016) Review:
Gone Girl: Lifetime Edition
‘The Girl On The Train’ is a movie, based on a book, that’s about not judging a book by it’s cover. It tells the stories of three women, each at different stages of their lives. Rachael, the girl on the train herself, pines for the life of the youngest woman, Megan. Megan would do anything to escape the clutches of domestication that is so embraced by Anna. The message then at the end of the day is, no matter what you choose to do, you’ll probably be miserable. A lesson learned in ‘Revolutionary Road’, when Jack and Rose got to live their happily ever never.
Now the way it was going, the movie was set to have a strong message about defying the perceived notions of what it means to be a woman, and breaking free of the roles assigned to women by society. Motherhood is no longer the end all be all. Somewhere along the line though, the movie’s message becomes drastically muddled as it goes further down the rabbit hole of a mystery thriller, as one of the three women goes missing.
So all right, it’s not a revolutionary film about modern day feminism, it’s instead a noir thriller. But maybe it’s both? Either way, you look at the case and all of its mysteries through the eyes of Rachael. She’s the main witness to the crime but there’s one problem. Rachael is an alcoholic who frequently can’t remember what took place the night before, so to say she’s an unreliable narrator is an understatement.
Through this the movie gives you a number of red herrings to keep you guessing about the actual culprit right along with Rachael. Bless your heart though if you can keep up with it. The movie has a tendency to jump back and forth through time, revealing bits and pieces about each of the women’s lives that led them to where they are today. This is designed so that later when your expectations are turned on its head you’re able to gasp in shock and awe, but it’s needlessly hard to follow at times.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times. I abhor narration. It’s lazy, and at this point exists only for people to complain about it. Though I don’t think I’ve ever been this offended by a narration. The movie begins with Rachael’s lament about her life, compared to the lives of the other women in the film, that she guesses about from the train window. The trouble is, as the scene is playing, I muted the narration in my head. It works exponentially better as you read Rachel’s face, reacting to what she sees from that window. Then again, I do feel like staring out the window and thinking about the movie that could’ve been, so I suppose I get it now.
At first glance, ‘The Girl On The Train’ bears a striking resemblance to ‘Gone Girl’. On the face of it, the title alone, and the bleak aesthetic are enough to trick you. It’s only when you delve deeper that it becomes more uncanny. Both feature stories with twists and turns, surrounding a murder mystery in the misery of suburbia. The only difference being, Gone Girl’s narrative was captivating, while ‘The Girl On The Train’ feels like a half baked sequel that no one really wanted.
After the movie ends, you and the people you saw it with are likely to get into what moments shocked you, what you thought of the characters, or when you figured out the plot. That’s what happened outside my cinema anyway. So to that end, the movie is successful I suppose. It’s just not a movie that can’t be enjoyed just as much at home.
Rating: Catch It On Cable