The Girl on the Train surprised me. Without any prior knowledge, save for a few poorly edited trailers, I expected to sit through a mediocre thriller and what I actually got was a deeply tragic character-driven story. The Girl on the Train is full of broken people, each with their own damaged past and mistakes and problems and emotions, and it knows how to show you. It does sometimes push too hard, putting too much effort into making you feel a certain way or showing you unnecessary backstory that, while heavily emotional and beautifully shot, doesn’t add much except more emotional weight to a story that weighed a ton already.
The main cast in this film deliver good performances for the most part, and Emily Blunt is fantastic in the role of Rachel, the titular girl on the train. A truly broken person, wallowing in her own self-destruction and sorrow, Emily Blunt makes Rachel pitiful a times, despicable at others and there are moments when I genuinely felt uncomfortable watching her. The focus on developing Rachel’s character, however, leaves very little time for the rest of the cast and some of the other characters have a tendency to be a bit two-dimensional.
The Girl on the Train leaps about with its story, jumping back and forth through time and between characters, for the most part fluidly. You rarely feel lost but the pacing does get a little chaotic from time to time even though this is likely done to mirror the rickety state of Rachel’s mind as she stumbles toward a conclusion about what’s really going on. And that is the crux of this film, as it is a film with a twist and, while it does make clear efforts to lead you toward a conclusion alongside Rachel in the second half of the film, you may find yourself putting the pieces together well before the finale. I was left feeling as though it could have gotten there a little smoother, and without some of the unnecessary melodrama and poetic moments, but it does get there in the end.
I enjoyed The Girl on the Train and, while it has a strong tendency to get caught up in itself, becoming pretentious or distracted with unnecessary flashbacks and plot development, it does a good job of showing how bleak and tragic life can be, and I walked out of the cinema emotionally affected.
This was a piece of fiction written for the site Burrst.com in its infancy. Though the site didn’t achieve the popularity it deserved, my post took the top spot and remains there three years later.
Link for those interested: http://burrst.com/bursts/36/?offset=0
Susannah stumbled over a particularly large piece of broken stone and would have fallen flat on her face if she hadn’t collided into the nearest wall. She span away from the curved wall of the tunnel and continued running, doing her best to ignore the grating sound from her shoulder and the jolting pain in her arm.
She cranked the pace up, remembering the blood on her boyfriend’s face as he staggered out of the darkness, what had to have been only minutes ago. Then the endless running and falling: these dank tunnels seemed to continue on infinitely into the darkness. If she hadn’t been scared out of her mind, and bleeding in several places, Susannah would have likely translated the situation into some pretentious metaphor about life and death.
Judging from her frequent collisions with walls and rocky outcrops, the tunnel was curving and turning occasionally. Susannah thought she was going in the same direction as when she started, but she’d heard that when you were lost and thought you were going in a straight line, you could often find yourself travelling in circles. She wasn’t sure if that applied to tunnels as well as woods and mountains. Either way, Susannah would give anything to be lost in the woods rather than this damp and dangerous tunnel: one unfortunately placed outcrop of rock combined with some equally unfortunate timing and she would be a goner.
Connor had gotten ahead of her any number of minutes ago but she hadn’t heard or seen him in a while. He had to be up here somewhere, and all she had to do was catch up with him and they could figure a way out together. She assumed he would be close: with a head injury and twelve years of smoking under his belt, he couldn’t be that quick.
Susannah was experiencing hope for the first time during this endless run when her bad shoulder connected with a sharp corner in the tunnel and, wheeling around to regain her balance, her foot slipped into a crack in the floor. She heard the snap her ankle made but barely registered the pain, too busy cursing as she collided with the floor and slid over an edge into darkness.
It took about two and a half seconds for Susannah to hit the bottom of the hole and for her neck to break and her body to contort into a shattered mess. She wasn’t counting down, she only had time for two things in the couple of seconds before her death.
The first was to scream and the second was to recognise one other sound amid her screaming. Something far above her, in the tunnel at the edge of the pit, was laughing.