Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Girl on the Train

Having not read the book I came to this film with an open mind. I was aware however, that many readers had been critical of the way the story was translated to film - possibly because the context of glossy New York made it a completely different story to the gritty overcrowded delayed commuter trains grinding into London. That said, the central character is an English woman in New York and as such is set apart. Emily Blunt delivers a measured tour-de-force performance as the titular character Rachel.

This film explores many dark holes and crevices - mostly within the psyches of leading characters - most of whom are women. It centres on guilt, addiction to both alcohol and sex, deception, control, emotional, psychological, sexual and physical violence and the human ability to keep on battling through to experience the power of transformation.

Although Rachel is presented as the central insecure loser, it becomes apparent that the driver for the web of deceit and twisted relationships is in fact one of the other character's insecurities. What the film does show is the power of the imagination to turn facts into fictions that can gnaw away at our sensibilities and propel us into a vortex of depression and ever greater self-doubt. When this is coupled with repeated blackouts from too much booze, it all combines to set up a web of suspicion that even those who are suspects are unable to unravel.

The film also portrays a number of positive characters all of whom are trying to help - the AA group, Martha (Lisa Kudrow), Abdic (Edgar Ramirez), Cathy (Laura Prepon), the man in the suit (Darren Goldstein) as well as police detectives who use wisdom and patience to disentangle the knot of the mystery. The way the film plays out also offers some psychological insights about dependency, guilt, idealisation and attachment.

The Girl on the Train is not easy viewing but it is presenting a believable story that doesn't always go where I expected it to. Some have said that the pace of the film is too slow, but I think that is harsh as it needs to unfold at the pace at which Rachel can piece her dawning epiphany together. It could be said that this is a film where everyone is, on the surface, living the American dream whilst underneath there is fragmentation, emptiness and despair. In that respect, for me, it echoes American Beauty. Pour a strong drink (only one!) and fire up the DVD player. I'll give it 7/10.