Commuter Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott and Megan, from the window of her train. One day, Watson witnesses something shocking unfold in the backyard of the strangers' home. Rachel tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that Megan is now missing and feared dead. Unable to trust her own memory, the troubled woman begins her own investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.
This movie reminded me of a similar movie and book Gone Girl. Gone Girl also had an amazing actress in the starring role Rosamund Pike. Rosamund plays the female psychopath in her movie and you follow her trying to figure out what the hell is her motive. In the Girl on the train, we have the anti heroine played by Emily Blunt that we try to figure out as well with conflicting consequences. The previews and reviews gave me some idea of what I was in store for so I was looking forward to seeing it. With all of this info in hand, my thoughts about this movie was, a recently divorced woman turns into an alcoholic because of her failed marriage. She stays in the town where her husband still lives in the house she help build with him. We see her ride the train everyday while she watches a young couple from the window of the train. Some how the woman is killed and she believes she knows who the killer is. But with her alcoholism, she is not sure she is seeing what actually happened. This is what I walked into the movie with.
Buuuuut, here is the movie. We open the movie with Rachel riding the train into New York narrating what she see's and a portion of her life. Nothing out of the ordinary until a lady and her baby sits next to her and Rachel begins talking to her and the child. What you begin to notice is her voice slurring and her actions a little awkward. The camera pans to her water bottle and back to the woman's disturbed face as she looks at Rachel. This begins the flashbacks of vodka in her water bottle and justification of why she is acting this way. The baby has great significance as you find out more about Rachel. The movie does a good job with juxtaposing her inner thoughts and then her true voice. It is amazing change of perspective as you begin to hear how an alcoholic hears themselves as opposed to her speaking voice which you can hear out loud. You think is this is what they hear even though they are totally drunk? The story then shifts to two other central characters. The new wife of Rachel's ex-husband Anna and Megan, the woman she has been watching from the train. We find the that Megan worked for Rachel's ex-husband as a nanny and hated children (her inner monologue states this clearly but you find out there is a tragic reason for this as well). Anna we find is Rachel's ex-husbands mistress before he married her and they have a child. Tom her ex-husband is shown as a thoughtful man that didn't give up on his ex-wife and continues to take care of her regardless of her erratic behavior. At the same time Tom promotes himself as the victim to everyone as well as freely letting everyone know, Rachel is mentally disturbed. Watching the scenes and following the dialogue, you believe he's telling the truth and you see Rachel as a disturbed, substance abusing, stalking sad woman. Even though the movie takes you every where within the town and from house to house. The movie centers on these characters and a few other characters that supports the narrative that fits in well with the main characters. Megan's husband, her psychologist, the investigator of the murder and a few others.
With that said, the movie is layered so deep that I came to a full understanding of what the story was telling me on so many different levels after I left the theater. The movie is written by a woman and you really have to give the male director credit because he captured the female essence of the movie in my opinion. Now, I didn't read the book so I do not know why the readers disliked the film. What the story created for me was this. A short back story of the new wife and where she fits into the relationship with Tom and Rachel. We are introduced to the sexual escapades of Megan and the mental struggles she is going through other than being a spoiled beautiful wife not getting what she wants out of life. Then there is Rachel. Her struggles with not being able to bare children, her alleged outburst during her alcoholic blackouts and struggling with her self worth after losing her husband which she believes is her fault. We watch Rachel beat herself up about her actions and regrets. Wondering if what she remembers is actually real or is it images she is not aware of after she has blacked out. The editing is amazing because you aren't sure of what she is remembering is real or not as well. So when she tells everyone that she believes Megan was killed and she was having an affair with some strange man. You aren't sure if this is a figment of her imagination or reality. What we find is its a combination of the two. For example a flashback memory of her attacking Megan is shown as reality of a memory and she comes home the same night bloodied and tattered. The supporting characters help fill in gaps needed throughout the movie so Rachel would not have to walk us through many of the memories and validation of them. When the investigation begins she starts her own and causes problems for everyone because of her jumble of thoughts that she can not decipher as real. Telling the husband things she is not sure of as well as going to see the psychologist that Megan was seeing. It complicates the whole investigation with Rachel some how in the middle of it
What you don't realize (if you do then you are a much better observer than I am) is this movie and story shows how the abused are abused even when they don't realize what is happening. Women become victims of men that manipulate what ever they can, to get what they want and this story shows how this can happen and honestly what is happening. Strong social messages and twisted perception of how people see others with emotional challenges to be unreliable, and should be ignored. This movie has so many great life lessons and very good commentary on the way society sees women and the how the assumption of guilt is dictated by the those in the position to judge. The acting from all three female characters really stand out. Overall I feel this movie comes across as a very suspenseful thriller. If you enjoy suspenseful stories that you have to follow closely and be rewarded with a good twist, this is it.