Looking at life through the window of a train

Maggie Saemann

What’s an audience to do when the main narrator of a film is an unreliable alcoholic who is unable to remember the majority of the night the movie revolves around?

re-girlonthetrainWell, keep watching of course, which is exactly what you will want to do anyway, because “The Girl on the Train” is a movie worth watching.

Directed by Tate Taylor and based on the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, “The Girl on the Train” is a fast-paced, thrilling movie that will keep audience members on the edge of their seats as they try to discover who exactly murdered Megan Hipwell.

The main character of the film is a woman named Rachel Watson, a drunk who rides the train to New York City every day, pretending to go to a job she got fired from more than two years ago. To occupy her time, Rachel obsesses over a couple whose home she can see from the train–Megan and Scott Hipwell. 

After regularly watching them on their porch, Rachel believes they’re the “embodiment of true love,” but one day, Rachel sees Megan kissing a man who isn’t her husband. Only days later, Rachel learns of Megan’s disappearance (and eventual murder). Lonely, depressed and with nothing else to focus on, Rachel becomes infatuated with finding out what happened.

However, it turns out Rachel was blacked out and seen stumbling around near Megan’s house the night she disappeared. When interviewed by the police, Rachel admits she doesn’t remember a thing. Her alcoholism, along with her clear obsession and a flashback to a video Rachel made talking about physically attacking Megan, makes Rachel the first and most obvious suspect.

But Megan’s husband, therapist, and neighbors, were all in the area that night too, and none of them seem exactly innocent either, especially considering they’re all bizarrely connected to one another in an intricate web that unravels as the film continues.

The audience will be eager to solve the mystery, their interest held by the switching first-person narration of Rachel, Megan herself and various other characters, all of whom become increasingly intertwined as the movie continues whether it’s through new events or flashbacks from the past.

The movie is generally well-done, and despite seemingly pointless changes from the book such as the film being set in New York instead of London, or Rachel’s drink of choice being vodka instead of gin, the film’s plot stayed mostly true to the story.

Rachel’s physique, however, is one noticeable thing that did not. In Hawkin’s novel, she was described as very overweight, sloppy, and off-putting to those around her.

Played by Emily Blunt in the film, Rachel is thin, beautiful, and surprisingly put together (at least physically), consistently wearing makeup and business attire, her chapped lips and tired looking eyes being the only physical indicator that something was wrong, leaving some fans disappointed.

Blunt’s acting was almost enough to make up for this, though, and her drunken behavior both on the train and off seemed believable, various scenes causing audience members like myself second-hand embarrassment with her frequent stumbles, slurred words and blackouts. 

And although her narrative is unreliable due to her drinking, Blunt makes Rachel’s character interestingly likable, causing the audience to be rooting for both her innocence and well-being despite her clear self-destruction and their suspicion.

The audience will be questioning the characters throughout the movie as they try to decide who they can and cannot trust, but the twist ending is perhaps the best part of the film.

Nothing is ever as it seems, and the true murderer of Megan will surprise even the most confident audience members.