Haley Bennett performs in a scene from The Girl on the Train.


The Girl on the Train is a soulless, minimally engaging thriller based on the book of the same name by Paula Hawkins.

The film was directed by Tate Taylor, who also directed The Help, which was a pretty great film. I don’t know what went wrong here.

The Girl on the Train is completely bereft of any style or cinematic originality. The film’s glossy sheen covers up a pretty lacklustre attempt at capitalizing on the popularity and success of similarly bleak films such as Gone Girl or Prisoners.

I found this film a chore to watch. As I mentioned above, I was minimally engaged by the story, and the characters are all so entirely unlikable, I felt that I had no relatable connection to any of them.

The film paints Emily Blunt’s lead character Rachel in such a poor light that when the audience is eventually expected to sympathize with her, I felt nothing.

To be fair, though, Blunt’s performance in this film is the one redeeming quality in an otherwise silly thriller.

These types of films rely on a balanced combination of character, plot and style. In some instances, a great plot and fantastic atmosphere might make up for a lack of character, the same way that effective and believable character development might make up for a weaker plot or lack of style.

Here we have a film that attempts at developing a cast of characters so unlikable that it doesn’t really matter what the plot of the film is.

By the end, I had a passing interest in seeing how the story was going to wrap up, not an edge-of-my-seat desire to discover the truth. Couple those facts with a very disjointed and unnecessarily convoluted story structure and audiences are left with a film that tries so hard to be a serious, cerebral thriller but really doesn’t accomplish anything beyond being a slightly less than mediocre one.

Maybe I was in the wrong mood for this film.

Maybe if I had read the book I would have felt more of a connection to the characters. Maybe if David Fincher wouldn’t have done such an incredible job directing Gone Girl, I wouldn’t be coming down so hard on Tate Taylor’s work on this film. One thing is for certain, I am starting to find less and less to be forgiving about when reviewing these types of films.

If you’ve read the book and actually enjoyed it, you may also enjoy this film. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at tbaymovieguy@gmail.com.

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