In this very special episode of In Theaters, Moviejawn’s Rosalie Kicks! and Jaime Davis tag team their review of The Girl on the Train, a movie that’s just way, way too easy to hate on.
Jaime: The Girl on the Train is a book I once read to get through a Thanksgiving vacation spent at home in Chicago. It was recommended to me by some friends – pitched as a sister novel to Gone Girl, psychological thriller/mystery/suspense trash that you can get through in literally two days. I read The Girl on the Train so freakin’ fast – pretty much in between four helpings of Thanksgiving food, two family rounds of Cards Against Humanity, 16 hours of sleeping, and approximately 3.5 Hallmark movies (my mom loves them. I think I might too?) Anyway, I enjoyed reading The Girl on the Train. Watching The Girl on the Train, not so much. Because honestly there is not one interesting thing about the way this film was shot, acted, directed, edited, styled, etc. It’s just boring female-centric John Grisham-esque garbage packaged with pretty actors (I love you, Emily Blunt) better suited for cable movie status.
Emily Blunt plays Rachel, an alcoholic pining-for-her-beautiful-ex-husband-and-perfect-house-on-Hudson who rides a train to Manhattan and back each day, for no apparent reason other than to drink herself into a stupor and creep on her old house and Megan and Scott, the Perfect Couple who live two houses down. When Megan goes missing and is later found dead, her fascination stretches entirely too far, and she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation…ooh! Did Rachel kill Megan? She can’t remember! Her memory stinks! OMG! Boring!
Rosalie: Despite the movie’s many faults, it is pretty much guaranteed people will see this thing. No matter what you read. No matter what is said. You are going to watch it. In fact, those old sports in Hollywood are counting on this thing to be their savior…their answer to the fall box office slump. (Cause come on, did anyone really go see Deepwater Horizon?) Guys, this book sold over three million copies worldwide and is about a girl that witnesses a MURDER and can’t remember if she is the one that committed said MURDER. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize there are bodies out there that will be lining up to see this thing. People are beyond thrilled that someone got behind the camera and made this thing. However, at the end of the day it is simply a movie for people that don’t know movies. If I was a betting gal, I would put money on this thing going down as this generation’s Fatal Attraction. There is no way anyone is taking this thing seriously – despite its attempt to dive into some serious subject matter such as: alcoholism, spousal abuse, manipulation, and coercion. Unlike my pal Jaime I have not read the book, yet I seemed to be able to call every move this film was gonna make. Nothing shocked me, except for the fact that as I sat in the dark movie theater I found myself wishing that David Fincher directed this thing instead.
Jaime: David Fincher would have been the perfect director for this film! As you said Rosalie, the story has alcoholism, murder, emotional and physical abuse, manipulation, cheating – some real bad adult shit! You would think the tone of the film would be creepy as fuck. CREEPY AS FUCK, Rosalie. But no, it just felt like a Lifetime movie, a very serious one, where Emily Blunt is supposed to be bloated from alcoholism but looks pretty not bad the entire time. And Justin Theroux plays a pretty convincing Justin Theroux, because we all know he’s a secret douche in real life. Stylistically, I wanted way more atmosphere from The Girl on the Train. I wanted to be wooed into this dark, dank, almost surreal subterranean world where all of the narrators are fucking unreliable. Unfortunately I found myself being steered from train to train, drink to drink, false memory to false memory, blindly and nonchalantly, like, “Oh here’s this bad thing. And here’s this bad thing. And here’s another bad thing!” All wrapped up in a very conventional, Hollywood-sleek red bow. I’ve seen this movie before, many times, and it’s called Not a Good Movie.
Rosalie: Jaime, there may have not been much to look at but you gotta admit that the dialogue was quite entertaining. It’s the type of dialogue that I’ve grown so fond of (and expect) in some of my favorite (and yours too) Hallmark flicks. You know, the kind that induces laughter but in reality was meant to be a very serious moment. One of those moments where you can just tell by the look on the actor’s face that they are trying so hard. They are giving it their all. Sorry, Mr. Theroux were you trying to act? I didn’t realize. Maybe it would have helped if the story seemed a bit more believable. Like how was Mr. Theroux paying alimony, aka buying train tickets and fancy cocktails for his wife, living in a fancy pants house on the Hudson, supporting his child and a wife that didn’t work (sorry sweetie but going to a farmers market for two hours a week is not considered a job). Or what about the fact that I did not see Emily Blunt drunk eat. Not even once. It would have been really nice to see her downing a bucket of cheese fries like a normal person in a diner that you would never go to in daylight/sober. I wanted to see her trying to maneuver a slice of pizza while drool was dripping from her mouth. You know, like an everyday American. Late night eats are one of the best things about being drunk and not including this scene is yet another miss by the ill-fated director.
Jaime: I do wish they would have said what Justin Theroux’s character did for a living because he had to make serious bank to afford all of that mess. And by mess I mean house right on the Hudson, two cars (one of which I swear was a Nissan? Which doesn’t fit the upwardly mobile stereotype), lots of bespoke suits, oh and supporting TWO women and a baby. Rosalie, I would’ve settled for seeing Emily eat ANYTHING. I mean she’s not working…she has all this time on her hands to solve a local murder mystery. Bitch ain’t got time to eat? Nah, she got time to eat. She’s on two trains a day! Trains are the perfect time to eat something…anything! An apple? Some cheddar bunnies perhaps? A banana even. Maybe her alimony only covered so much – trains, drinks, rent, more trains and more drinks. And let’s talk a little about the director, Tate Taylor. He’s made a few movies so far: The Help (adaptation), Get On Up (biopic), and now another adaptation with The Girl on the Train. If he’s not careful he’s going to take on the mantle that Lasse Halstrom shouldered for like, a decade: directing every sappy book-to-movie adaptation EVER. Taylor’s next endeavor is Versailles ’73, another biopic. SIGH. You’re on thin ice, TT. Also can we talk about how they never addressed how Emily Blunt came to live in the US as a British expat? They just glossed right over that like it’s nothing. Fun fact: the book was set in London. Why not just…set the film in London and hire the best actors in the world, British ones, duh!
Rosalie: Apparently TT did not find these snippets of information to be important. Maybe he didn’t read the book either. Maybe those studio execs had the gun to his head and demanded the thing be churned out in record time and under budget. They were on a time crunch Jaime; this thing needed to be made NOW! There were three million bodies climbing the walls waiting for this story to be made into a motion picture and details, well…. they just weren’t necessary. In times like these you gotta get the picture to the public as fast as humanly possible, even if that means sacrificing the story. My guess is poor TT was feeling the pressure. There was no time for re-writes (screenwriter wrote Fur and Secretary – all seems to be kinda making sense now). There was no time to explain how/why a British lady found herself in New York or why she never had time to eat or why every single character in this thing seemed to be mentally ill. None of this matters when you got three million souls waiting in line to see something that they already know the ending to.
Jaime: Yeah, I mean I guess I’m one of those three million souls? But I read it a year ago and my memory is about as unreliable as Rachel’s, minus the alcohol addiction. So I didn’t really remember any nuances to the ending. And I just need to mention the sheer under-utilization of Allison Janney as hard-nosed Detective Riley, who is ON TO YOU, RACHEL. She knows what you’re all about girl! I mean, the writing of Detective Riley was so one-note, so not a real character, you have to wonder how much they paid Janney to get her to agree to phone it in for a few scenes. I mean, we can all agree that Janney is an American Acting Treasure, right? Please give this woman more to work with. It’s demeaning for a variety of reasons. Christ.
And now I’m done. I think I’ve said all I have to say about this train wreck (pun ENTIRELY intended). If you’re a fan of the book, then you’ll probably get some moderate enjoyment from The Girl on the Train. And if you haven’t read it yet, get yourself a copy, find a seat on the Metro-North Hudson Line train (or any trains going in and out of London) and escape from your life for a few hours. That’s all the time you’ll need.