According to friends of mine who attend book clubs, I’m the only woman left not to have not read Paula Hawkins’ novel on which this film is based, which means you will be spared all that tutting when it veers away slightly from the novel and, for example, poor Rachel is wearing a grey frumpy cardigan instead of a blue frumpy cardigan.
And before you all email me in horror, as I haven’t read the book I have no idea what colour her frumpy cardigan was in the book or even if she wears cardigans. But frumpy it is in the film.
In fact you could say that Rachel being on the train to Frumpsville (long shapeless cardigans, hideous enormous blouses, messy eyeliner) is our cue that we are in the present; while in flashbacks to her “happy” marriage she sports a rock chick fringe and choppy highlighted hair.
This is an enjoyable if overlong movie, and though it jumps around it’s not hard to follow, especially if you like fashion and can tell your granny chic from your rock chick.
It does though have a turgid stretch in the middle where Rachel is drunk, her eye make-up is terrible, there are lots of unanswered phone calls and everyone with blonde hair wears it in a braid; luckily the last third is gripping.
And where it can get confusing is among the men, most of whom look really alike with short dark hair and maybe some stubble, apart from a ginger man on the train; it took me ages to work out not only who was having sex with whom but also who was married to whom and therefore having non-adulterous sex.
Rachel is an alcoholic divorcee who was sacked from her job a year ago for drunkenness, but who continues to take the train into the city daily as if she still works there. Each morning she watches a couple, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), in a house that backs on to the track, imagining their lives and their names.
(This would be much more boring near me where all the houses overlooking the railway line are massive and detached, lived in by millionaires called Ollie and Caroline and their black labrador puppy.)
Rachel used to live two doors down, until infertility sent her into a spiral of dispair, drinking and blackouts; leading to she and her husband Tom divorcing. Tom (Justin Theroux) now lives there with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), who with her long blonde braided hair looks like a slightly older, more establishment version of Megan; and baby Evie. Megan has been a nanny for Anna and Tom, but left, dissastified with work and with her marriage to Scott.
The only fly in the ointment for Anna is Rachel, still apparently calling and texting her ex-husband several times a day, unable to let go, turning up at the house even though now she lives miles away.
When Rachel isn’t spying on people from the train, or walking the suburban streets near her old haunts, she’s drinking with strangers in bars and eating olives (her only sustenance by the looks of things).
One morning on the train, Rachel spies Megan on her balcony hugging another man; furious, that night she seeks the other woman out, before waking the next day from an alcohol fuelled black out with her head covered in blood.
Megan is missing; several days later a body is discovered. The police have plenty of suspects, a fistful of loose ends, but no real evidence.
Girl On The Train is uneven, though Blunt is devastating as the befuddled and tragic Rachel, consumed with anger and rage at Anna taking her whole life with her husband and a baby and their home. It’s a raw, painful and moving portrayal of a broken woman.
Rachel can’t move forward as she can’t work out what happened in her past; alcohol-related blackouts have been explained to her by her husband Tom, including a drunken scene at her boss’s house with his wife Martha (Lisa Kudrow), but she can’t remember them.
And she still can’t connect up the dots of her old life in her head, or reconcile what she is supposed to have done then; or now with Megan’s disappearance. Something just doesn’t ring true.
There are some shocking and very sad moments along the way (Megan’s history with her own baby is heartbreaking, so take tissues). Though a chance meeting – on a train, of course – with Martha again enables Rachel to finally order her past and understand what really happened to her.
The rest of the cast are something of an ensemble, and a talented one at that. But this really is Blunt’s (slightly doughy in the middle) film from the first scene to the very final twist at the end.
Watch the trailer for The Girl On The Train: