Plot: What’s it about?
Every year, there seems to be at least one novel that’s destined to the screen and will become the “it” movie of that year (well, hopefully). This year I’d have to say that it was Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train. My mother had actually read the book last year and had been trying to push it on my wife and I for quite some time. We reluctantly agreed, though it sat on our shelf for longer than we’d like to say. I don’t get the chance to read as much as I used to, part of the peril of being a “film critic” (and I use those quotes intentionally). And when I do pick up a book, I usually prefer it to be of a book made into a movie or one that’s about to. I don’t know why, I guess that’s why I like to mix my media up that way. At any rate, I did pick this up and was duly impressed so it was understandable that I was looking forward to seeing the film. I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt and though the rest of the cast isn’t quite what I’d say is up to her caliber, I was waiting to be surprised…
Blunt plays Rachel, a woman with a drinking problem who’s lost her job the year before due to her addiction. She rides the train in and out of New York every day, though we don’t really see what it is she does (or why). On her commute, she passes her old house where Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) now live. Doors down their nanny, Megan (Haley Bennett) lives with her husband Scott (Luke Evans). Rachel, obsessed with Megan, follows Megan and something happens. Rachel is prone to blackouts due to her drinking, but has no idea if she’s responsible for the disappearance of Megan. Rachel, desperate to put the pieces of her muddled story together, is at her wits end and is now being questioned by the police (Allison Janney). Attempting to make heads or tails of things, her world has now been turned upside down. Is she a murderer or just a victim of her own circumstances?
There are good performances in the film, I won’t deny that. But having read the book, I knew what to expect and my excitement always comes from what I’d envisioned in my mind (while reading) and seeing how it translated to the screen. The main trio of characters all have more developed roles and the actors playing them all deliver on those roles. Blunt, as usual, is great as Rachel and as any actress playing someone with a drinking problem – has to walk the line between being tortured by her addiction and overplaying it by becoming almost cartoonish. She nails it. Unfortunately Justin Theroux is relegated to the same type of stereotypical role that any actor in his place would be playing. It’s not his fault. I found the direction to be a bit all over the map and for those who hand’t read the novel, think they might be a bit lost. And that’s the crux of the film. It’s good, with solid performances, but it didn’t blow me away and I feel that if you don’t know the source material, it’s a bit hard to follow.
Video: How’s it look?
What’s that I see? Narrow black bars at the top and bottom of my screen? Say it isn’t so! Only kidding. The Girl on the Train comes to Ultra HD/4K in a 1.85:1 HEVC encode that looks, as we’d expect, spot on. The color palette used is very bland. Having previously lived in Westchester county, I can say that it’s not always overcast and rains all the time. It’s just not the case. But I get what they were going with when it comes to the tone of the film and so forth. This 4K version is darn near perfect. It sports detail that looks amazing (the perpetual bags under Emily Blunt’s eyes and so on), the HDR isn’t given a lot of chances to shine, but little things like blood on the sweater and we can see the texture…it looks great.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Both the Blu-ray and the Ultra HD versions sport a next generation DTS X audio track (this is down sampled to a DTS HD Master Audio track if your receiver doesn’t support DTS X) which, sadly, doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to flex its muscle. Yes, sometimes the squeaking of train wheels can sound amazing, but not here. We get some muddled dialogue, some semi-transparent background noise and even Danny Elfman’s score seems to fall flat. Yes, sorry Mr. Elfman, you should have worked with Tim Burton on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children instead. Having said all of that, it’s not totally a bad-sounding track. It just doesn’t really deliver and isn’t on par with other releases that feature a DTS X soundtrack. While I don’t think viewers will be let down, I’ll also say they probably won’t be too impressed either.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted and Extended Scenes –
- Rachel Rides the Train
- Rachel Arrives at Grand Central
- Megan Screams as Train Passes
- Megan’s Flashback
- Megan Leaves Anna’s House
- Rachel Pees in the Street
- Rachel Almost Gets Hit by a Taxi
- Rachel Takes Selfies
- Rachel Drinks in the Bathroom
- Anna Looks out her Window
- Rachel sees Man in Suit
- Tom and Anna Discuss Moving
- Tom’s Request
- Tom Begs Anna for Forgiveness
- The Women Behind The Girl – We get a bevy of input from author Paula Hawkins, producer Marc Platt and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson as they dissect the plot, show scenes from the end of the film and essentially give us a general plot overview. If you want to watch the film in five minutes – here you go.
- On Board The Train – Again, we’re deluged with a series of scenes from the film as producer Marc Platt and director Tate Taylor (among others) tell how the novel made it to the screen, the “broken women” characters and the actors who played their respective parts. Clocking in at 11 minutes, it’s a bit more informative than the above feature, but still a little “EPK’ish.”
- Audio Commentary – Director Tate Taylor puts forth a pretty good and informative track. He seems to have had a vision and went with it, but I just felt that, as with the movie, it just didn’t seem to come to fruition. Still, fans will get a kick out of this track.
The Bottom Line
The Girl on the Train probably had higher expectations put on it and I’m willing to bet that it underperformed. I found it a bit all over the map, lacking direction and couldn’t really relate to the main characters. Add it all up and it’s not really a recipe for success. The disc does deliver on a technical level, so true fans who want to pick it up won’t be disappointed by the way it looks and/or sounds.