The Girl on the Train
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The Girl on the Train

The most thrilling thing about this not particularly thrilling thriller: Emily Blunt’s outstanding lead performance, which is so good, you almost think she’s in another movie.

When I first read Paula Hawkins’ best seller, (yes, I was literally sitting on a beach, making the most out of this appropriately labeled “beach book”), I knew I was zipping through a Gone Girl wanna-be. But, I thought the novel offered up some great roles for a few actors and, notably, actresses and I was looking forward to seeing what director Tate Taylor would do with them.

Turns out, not much. This movie is all about Rachel, the alcoholic divorcee who rides the train back and forth, spying on the neighborhood she used to live in, obsessed with her ex husband, his new family and the people down their street. In the book, of course, this all took place in England and Rachel wasn’t just a barfing, bloated drunk, she was fat. The action here is in Westchester, New York and while Rachel gets red eyed and sloppy, there is none of this voluminous vomiting business. And Rachel is still slim. Which might or might not annoy the book’s many fans.

And here, whether by design or performance, the roles of Rachel’s ex, his new wife and her nanny are greatly diminished. We do get a bit of stuff from Luke Evans’ Scott Hipwell, but even that feels rushed. And while it’s always great to see Allison Janney on screen, why limit her to just a few rote scenes?

But I digress: this movie is not about any of these characters. It’s about Rachel and the extraordinary Emily Blunt takes the ball and runs to the big time with it. I spoke with Emily while she was in production; she told me it was a very difficult shoot because of the dark places she needed to go. I’m sure that’s true. Blunt makes us ache for Rachel. We root for her, too, thanks to this dedicated and terrific performance.

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