I very much enjoyed last year’s much-derided thriller The Girl on the Train. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s hardly the worst. I like a good, steamy, erotic thriller, the types of movies that used to be original screenplay spec sales back in the 90’s. But nowadays, these genre thrillers are typically made because they’re based on best-selling novels, which is the case with this flick. Emily Blunt is absolutely awesome as a totally out of control alcoholic who can’t remember the fine details concerning her potential involvement in the disappearance of a local hottie who may or may not be schtupping the entire neighborhood.
The gorgeous Haley Bennett is the seductress, Justin Theroux is Blunt’s much-irritated ex-husband, side-of-beef Luke Evans is around as a possible suspect, and Allison Janney and Rebecca Ferguson fill in the margins as a cop and goodie-good-wife respectively. The gorgeous cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Far From the Madding Crowd) stresses visual sensuality at nearly every chance afforded, while the luxury home furnishing production design is nearly pornographic in the same way as the current HBO show Big Little Lies, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.
Director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) might have been a little too tasteful with some of the seamier elements to the narrative, which was adapted by screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Chloe, Fur) from the Paula Hawkins novel; I kept wishing that Brian De Palma had been offered a chance to direct this pulpy-trash because when formally elevated, these types of movies can be very entertaining, as this one was for me. Paul Verhoeven might’ve been a cool fit with the material, too. It’s got a leering, predatory vibe, and while Taylor is a smooth craftsman, I’m not sure he was fully up for all of the kink that was inherent to the material.
It’s a solid thriller made with lots of production polish, and anchored by the magnetic acting chops of Blunt, who can seemingly do no wrong for me as a viewer. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a sizable worldwide hit, grossing $175 million off of a $45 million budget. Danny Elfman’s score is appropriately sketchy.
Review by Nick Clement