Thursday, 6 October 2016

REVIEW - THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (TATE TAYLOR)


A flaccid domestic melodrama, floundering in its search for an identity that ought to be so clear! The Girl on the Train is so soapy you can almost smell the suds, yet Tate Taylor and Erin Cressida Wilson never find the proper tone to strike in order to bring it to life. Paula Hawkins' story is slight where it should be significant, overwrought where it should be understated, but it possesses a pulpy charm, a gleeful juxtaposition of prim propriety with salacious desire and filth. Taylor and Wilson together seem deaf to its low-down drives, however, and director and writer each contribute toward a sanitized simulacrum of the movie this begs to be. Taylor is particularly out of his depth, adopting all manner of vague, over-familiar directorial touches with scant purpose in this story. The monotonous seriousness of The Girl on the Train rapidly turns a (reported) page-turner of a novel into the most persuasive cinematic cure for insomnia. A questionable tendency toward foreshadowing and suggestion inevitably does the film no favours, not least in that the inferences drawn by the attentive mind are certain, initially, to be of far greater psychological substance than what actually transpires. This is one of those unfortunate features that mistakes shock for such substance. It's held together, and marvellously so, by a talented cast (of white people, mind, save the Latinx actor cast in a Middle Eastern role), led by the ever-astonishing Emily Blunt. She has a difficult, unflattering part to play, de-glamorized yet not to the extent that it becomes ironically glamorous again. Blunt has, quite possibly, never been better, yet she's hardly ever been in worse.