The most important aspect of a potboiler movie is that the pot has to keep boiling, gaining in intensity rather than losing it. “The Girl on the Train,” despite having some strong story elements and a very good performance by Emily Blunt, loses steam to the point the plot congeals.
Blunt plays Rachel, a woman who’s seemingly lost everything -- her career, her marriage, her sobriety, her hopes of having a baby. She spends her days in an alcoholic stupor, riding the train into the city for the job she lost a while ago. This allows her to glide past her old house, where her ex-husband (Justin Theroux) has remarried to the woman he was cheating on her with, and they’ve just had a gorgeous baby girl.
While she’s pummeling herself with this vision of what could have been, Rachel also becomes curious about another couple living a couple of doors down (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), who tend to have a very, um… vigorous romantic life, which they engage in without apparent regard to the trains passing by their very unobstructed windows.
When this woman goes missing, Rachel becomes a prime suspect, since she had one of her frequent blackouts on that day and woke up confused and bloody (not hers). Nonetheless she undertakes her own amateur investigation, befriending the grieving husband and signing up for therapy sessions with their shrink.
Slowly, she starts to emerge from her self-induced fog -- just as the dangers grow to confront her.
Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins (unread by me), “The Girl on the Train” loses momentum as it goes rather than gaining it. Director Tate Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson give us their own mediocre version of “Gone Girl,” which accomplished almost everything this film does not.
It’s too bad Blunt’s haunting performance got wasted with such inept plotting.
Bonus features are pretty good. They include deleted and extended scenes, a couple of making-of documentaries and a feature-length commentary track with director Taylor.