THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Direction: Tate Taylor
Actors: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett
Don’t be misled by the hype surrounding the release of one of the year’s most anticipated films. A purported psychological thriller with embarrassing Hitchcockian undertones, The Girl On The Train is dramatically inert and lacks even a semblance of the master’s style or storytelling skills.
Adapted from the debut bestseller by the British novelist Paula Hawkins, the meandering narrative unfolds from the shifting perspectives of its three unappealing female characters.
While relocating the action from London to the plushier environs of suburban New York, director Tate Taylor (The Help) retains the focus on a recent divorcee who’s perennially plastered on vodka (Blunt, hopelessly miscast).
For a truly riveting portrayal of female alcoholics, one needs to rewind to the binge-drinking Lee Remick in Days of Wine And Roses (1962) or the lush-ious Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
The viewer, meanwhile, is trapped in the role of a voyeur alongside the thirty-something protagonist as she commutes to and fro from ‘work’.
Always seated at the same window seat, she wistfully gazes at her former house now occupied by her ex-husband (Justin Theroux), his new wife (Rebecca Fergugon) and their baby.
More crucially, the distraught passenger also fantasizes about a seemingly perfect couple (Bennett-Luke Evans) who live next door.
Later, mired in a drunken stupor, she seems to have witnessed a shocking crime. Matters get murkier when she is required to prove her innocence to the investigative detective (Allison Janney).
There are token nods to the scourge of misogyny besides cursory references to the intense bouts of jealousies which childless women are sometimes prone to.
Genre clichés, portentous dialogue and red herrings galore leave us wishing the femme-centric potboiler would come to an end. Unfortunately, one has to wait for an interminable two hours for …The Train to finally stop.