Monday, October 24, 2016

Movie Monday: The Girl on the Train

We had a Big Event here last week: my husband and I went out to dinner and a movie on $5 Tuesdays at our local theater. What got us off our couch and recliner? The Girl on the Train, the recent adaptation of a novel by Paula Hawkins (review at the link) that we both enjoyed reading last summer. We both loved this twisty and suspenseful movie that stuck pretty closely to the the book. This movie also fits perfectly with my R.I.P. XI Challenge, to enjoy spooky, creepy, suspenseful fare during this Halloween season.

Emily Blunt stars as Rachel, a woman whose facade of having it together quickly falls apart in the first scenes of the movie. She rides the train back and forth into NYC each day, presumably commuting to work, dressed in a suit and carrying a water bottle. But we soon see that she fills her water bottle with vodka! Rachel likes to stare out the windows at the backs of houses that abut the train tracks, catching glimpses of other people's lives.

One house in particular catches her attention. Its occupants are a man and woman who look to Rachel like they have the perfect relationship & the perfect life together. She watches every day as they come out on the upstairs balcony or walk into the yard or kiss in the window. She even names the couple in her mind, thinking of them as Jess and Jason. Then, one day, Rachel sees "Jess" outside on the balcony in her bathrobe, kissing another man who is definitely not her husband. Rachel is horribly upset by this.

That night, Rachel gets drunker than usual in the Grand Central bar (I love that bar overlooking Grand Central!) and impulsively decides to get off the train at the station where "Jess and Jason" live. By now, we have found out that Rachel's ex-husband, Tom, lives on that same street and that Rachel is also obsessed with him and his new wife, Anna, and their baby. Rachel wakes up the next morning covered in blood and mud, with little memory of what happened after she got off the train at that stop. She thinks she might have encountered Anna, but she can't clearly remember anything. Then, she sees on the news that "Jess" - whose real name is Megan - has gone missing, and her frantic husband, Scott, is looking for information on her whereabouts.

From there, the story spirals ever-darker and more complicated, as the viewers learn, bit by bit, more about Rachel, about Megan and Scott, and about Tom and Anna - and Tom's history with Rachel. Rachel inserts herself into the police investigation, getting questioned by the police because she was seen in the neighborhood - drunk - that night, and taking it upon herself to tell Scott about Megan's other man. It's a complex mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and through it all, we are as confused as Rachel as to whether she did something that night or not.

I remember when I read the novel that I suspected a different person of Megan's disappearance with just about every new chapter! The movie does a great job of sustaining that suspense and recreating the uncertainty of the story in the book. Neither my husband nor I remembered all the details (it's a complicated plot line), so we were totally engrossed in the movie.

All of the actors do a good job here, but Emily Blunt is absolutely amazing in her role as Rachel, the ultimate in unreliable narrators. She plays drunk and confused and falling apart remarkably well, especially considering that she was pregnant during filming and not drinking at all! We were confused as to why the movie's creators decided to move the story's setting from London to NY - especially with a British lead actress - but we had to grudgingly admit that it worked. If you like mystery and suspense, this is a dark, twisty tale that will pull you in and not let you go until the final breathless moments.

The Girl on the Train is currently in theaters, with the DVD scheduled for release in January 2017.

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