Forget the comparisons to David Fincher’s Gone Girl, this 2016 neo-noir thriller from director Tate Taylor (The Help) based on Paula Hawkins’ bets-selling 2015 novel is its own thing that has more in common with the campy ’80s thriller Fatal Attraction than Fincher’s drama. What all three films have in common is they center on marital problems and the façade of the perfect marriages that begin to crumble under intense public scrutiny.
In The Girl on the Train, Emily Blunt plays the titular character whose marriage has dissolved and when we first meet her, she, Rachel, is obsessing over her ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Rebbeca Feguson, TV’s The White Queen) as she passes by their house she used to live in from the train she rides back and forth from the suburbs to the city everyday. We slowly begin to learn that Rachel has a drinking problem, which makes her obsessive behavior all the more questionable when she gets drawn into a murder investigation involving the nanny, Megan (Haley Bennett) for Tom and Anna’s baby.
Megan is a young, attractive blonde who lives next door to Tom and Anna and she seemingly has the idyllic life in the suburbs with an attractive husband Scott (Luke Evans). But as she begins to reveal through voice over and through sessions with her psychiatrists, all that glitters isn’t gold in her relationship either. She can also pass easily as a dead ringer for a younger Anna, particularly from a distance, which is crucial later in the film.
Rachel, being the total mess that she is, decides to get off the train one day to confront Anna, but she ends up being blindsided by someone and waking up in her friend’s (Laura Prepon) apartment where she has stayed for the past three years ever since her marriage collapsed. She’s bruised, covered in blood, and has lost time. Is it another alcohol-induced blackout? She is having vague memories of confronting and possibly attacking her nemesis Anna, an act she described wanting to do in great detail on a cellphone video just the night before as she was out getting drunk. There’s a twist, however, when Tom and Anna’s nanny Megan turns up dead. Rachel doesn’t know Megan, but she believes she may have seen Megan having a sexual encounter with a man that wasn’t her husband, so Rachel, now under scrutiny by the local police, tries to ingratiate herself with Megan’s husband and tell him about the affair. That is when certain shocking truths about everyone’s lives and marriages begin to emerge, including some long-held beliefs about Rachel and her past with Tom and Anna that may have been different from everyone involved recalled.
Tate Taylor does a superb job of creating a sumptuous visual production with The Girl on the Train courtesy of slick cinematography from Jeff Cronenweth and the ritzy Westchester County, NY suburbs filming locations (areas that used to be my stomping grounds in my teens and early to mid twenties). The desaturated color palette provides a sense of gloom that pervades the film.
That said, sustained mystery is somewhat overwhelmed by overwrought plot and unbelievable twists involving the characters. Rachel’s involvement with the dead nanny’s husband and the police department’s nonchalant handling of their primary suspects’ interface in its investigations defies logic. The turbulent dénouement where all is finally revealed leads to an anticlimactic final act where, again, an impudent police department seemingly just accepts the word of all parties involved and goes with the flow. Perhaps it’s a rich, suburban thing (I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes), but it doesn’t make for great on-screen drama at all.
Emily Blunt, however, does put on a brilliant showing as a woman coming undone who could very well have committed the ultimate crime given her obsessions and her constant drunkenness. And somewhere in all of this mystery and intrigue is a story about three woman maneuvering around each other, competing with one each other for the perfect “have it all” lives and not realizing that no woman has it all, no woman is perfect, just as this film, although it has its good bits, certainly isn’t.
[Editor’s Note: For a different take on this film read the theatrical review of The Girl on the Train by our own Lawrence Devoe]
The Girl on the Train was shot on 35mm Kodak Vision3 50D 5203, Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 200T 5213, and Vision3 500T 5219 film stocks and utilized a 2K DI (Digital Intermediate) in the processing stage. The 4K disc is transferred from the 2K master and also has HDR (High Dynamic Range). The latter is applied very well in this nicely shot, somewhat desaturated, yet shadowy motion picture. There is superb nuance in the shadows, bright, but not blinding bright lights, and spot on flesh tones. There’s an excellent balance and no instances of crush that I could spot on my display in this 1.85:1 framed HEVC 2160p encodement.
An excellent DTS:X mix is offered up for The Girl on the Train on both the 4K and standard Blu-ray discs. From the opening sequences we get beautiful atmospherics and the sound of the Metro-North rail line filling the “X”, surround, surround back and front channels. The quieter, dialogue-driven scenes are handled well also, with clean, precise, and full dialogue, but a nice bit of low-level ambience mixed through the heights and surround and surround back channels. We get good dynamic range and more than sufficient low-end to handle the effects and score.
The feature commentary by the directory and the nearly twenty-minutes of deleted and extended scenes offer up the strongest material here. The commentary is included on both the 4K and Blu-ray.
- Digital HD UltraViolet + iTunes Digital HD Digital Copy
- Standard Blu-ray with main feature in HD and HD extras.
- Feature commentary with director Tate Taylor
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 00:17:38)
- The Women Behind The Girl (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:04)
- On Board The Train (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:11:25)
The Final Assessment
A strong mystery and beautifully shot film is hindered by some questionable plot choices and at times hurried storytelling that makes some things seem too farfetched. Otherwise, The Girl on the Train is entertaining, but no classic. The 4K Ultra HD is a strong disc with excellent picture and audio.
Be the first to leave a review.