Strong Cast, Weak Characters | Review of ‘The Girl on the Train’ (Film)

By Cynthia Ayala

The Girl on the Train starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett & Rebecca Ferguson Universal Pictures
The Girl on the Train starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett & Rebecca Ferguson
Universal Pictures

A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.


Based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name, this film captures a high-intensity struggle of an alcoholic woman who is struggling to remember what happened the day she came home bruised and bloody on the same night someone goes missing.

I heard much about the novel, both good and bad, and as for the bad, I’m beginning to understand why those people I know felt the way they did. But I went into this film thinking it looked good, and when you add Emily Blunt in the film, I thought “now there’s a lot of potential to save a story.”

That wasn’t the case here. That’s not to say that was film was terrible because it wasn’t. It had the tension, it had the drive, but for the most part, these female characters are not very likable. You want to feel sorry for Rachel (Emily Blunt), but she’s an alcoholic, a bad one. Does she play the part well, of course, she does, but alcoholics on film are hard to sympathize with when their internal narrative shuts down. However, that being said, as the movie progresses and we the audience begins to know her, her pain and her struggle, the viewer can garner some sympathy for her character. But there is the mystery of who killed Megan that makes the audience suspicious of her. She thinks she did something wrong, but Rachel’s quick to play the blame game, hoping to escape from the nightmare and fear that she did something wrong. Again, that doesn’t make her a very likable character. So the audience is twisting and turning trying to figure out how they should even feel about her throughout most of the film.

Then there are the blondes Megan (Haley Bennett) and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Megan is a woman who is just a compulsive liar and cheater because she’s always unhappy, constantly trying to figure out how to make herself happy without giving any regard to others. She’s not very likable. So when Megan goes missing, no one [the audience] feels sorry for her. And as for Anna, she had an affair with Rachel’s husband, married him, then just stood by at the end to watch everything unfold in the hopes of keeping her hands clean.

The men in the film are just as bad. Tom (Justin Theroux) is just a vile piece of shit while Scott (Luke Evans) suffers from anger and control issues. He’s probably the most likable out of them all.

Overall, you’re sitting in a film where the women all sound the same, they talk the same and aren’t very likable, and you have the men who are just equally as awful. Although in Tom’s case, he’s the most despicable character of them all.

That’s the biggest struggle of the film, the fact that the characters themselves are just not likable and aren’t very different. Sure the women are all trying to break away from the gender roles “being a good wife and mother; bearing a child” while the men fall into this aggressive, dominant types. They all fall into these condensed roles to make the tension in the film rise higher and higher until that ultimate moment.

I will say this, though, while the characters aren’t likable, the actors at least played the parts exceptionally, and they all had chemistry with one another which is important. The film’s plotline is enough to hold onto the attention of the viewer because at the end of the day it’s a mystery, a thriller and it succeeds in being that. (C+)

—Film Credits—

Directed by  Tate Taylor

Screenplay by  Erin Cressida Wilson

Based on Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans & Allison Janney

Rating | Length | Genre: R  |  112 min  |  DramaMysteryThriller

Distributed by Universal Pictures


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