Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Girl on the Train

This thriller has a real 1990's style, plot, and genre-hugging pacing to it which, depending on your view, might not be a bad thing. The twists and turns are fairly easy to see coming but it remains enjoyable regardless. The story is based on the book of the same name by Paula Hawkins and involves a splattering of characters, couples, ex-partners and lovers between whom you have to try and unpick the plot as to who did what and indeed what happened to whom. There's even a trusty psychiatrist and detective thrown in for good 1990's measure!

I'm not sure about this technique employed to purposely try and throw the audience off the scent by juggling and jiggling the timeline and not allowing it to flow chronologically. It's fairly transparent as an approach and all it really does is add confusion, rather than suspense or unease. But then, maybe that's the purpose. If so, it could have been done better! Call me old fashioned, but unless it's done really well, as in Tarantino, I'd rather see a clock ticking forwards!

So there's a girl who travels on a train to and from the city, commuting each day, who, in good Hitchcock style, observes some apparent dastardly shenanigans from the window as she passes a house. She then can't resist the temptation to get involved, for various reasons, and finds herself wading through treacle before you can say "please Inspector, punch my ticket"! The rest unfolds as it plods along and various clues are served up en route in line with that pacing-the-audience I referred to earlier.

What stands out here as the reason to watch this film is the central performance of Emily Blunt as the voyeur. She's got a drinking problem and spends half the film tanked up with vodka, which she plays to harrowing perfection in every scene. She's incredibly convincing and when she's not under the table, but expressing emotion and delivering the passion of what her character is going through she does it with incredible ability and class. I've not really noticed her much before as I think she's been in films which I wouldn't really bother watching, though I did see Sicario in which she performed well as I recall, but nothing like this.

The rest of the cast (none of whom I really know - apart from that dippy one in Friends) go through the motions. I don't think there's really any other stand out performances. The set and scene is very much American suburban 1990's thriller, too, with middle-class-but-working fairly well-to-do people living in nice detached dwellings with twee white fences. Think The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

I can't say I was blown away by this film, but it was fairly enjoyable. It is worth watching, however, for the thrills and spills of Blunt's performance which is worth the train fare alone. Enjoy.

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