The Girl on the Train is a 2016 American mystery thriller drama film, based on Paula Hawkins’ popular 2015 novel, The Girl on the Train. The film stars Emily Blunt, playing Rachel Watson, a divorced alcoholic who spends everyday commuting to and from the New York City after losing her job as a publicist. The story follows Rachel, as she catches daily glimpses of what seems to be the perfect couple, Megan and Scott Hipwell, from the window of her train every morning. One day, as she passes by the house that she waits to admire everyday and sees Megan with another man. This comes as something so shocking and personal to Rachel. Rachel gets off at the following stop with the intentions to confront Megan, but remembers nothing. The next morning, Rachel wakes up with bruises all over her body, a horrible hangover, and no memory of what happened the night before. That same morning there are reports on TV that Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes obsessed and invests herself into the case and tries to find out for herself what happened to Megan, and what exactly happened to herself that same night that Megan went missing.
The director, Tate Taylor, used different aesthetic qualities that were unique to each character. Rachel’s character is struggling with her alcohol addiction and how it has actually drove her to have trouble remembering what she perceives to be reality and what is reality. For a lot of the scenes that Rachel is struggling with this, the director used mostly hand-held cameras and the shots were often sped up at times, or drastically slowed down. Rachel seemed to be portrayed in a mostly grey, blue and greens to highlight her confusion. I noticed that it was not too easy to tell if Rachel was having a flashback or if what she was seeing was even reality because the cinematography was so steady. Megan was filmed in a much steadier camera that was much more like it was floating to show how Megan is seen to Rachel, as someone who is desirable to be and look like.
The story is told in the point of view of Rachel. Throughout the entire film, whether something actually happened or it was something we later found out Rachel was imagining, it was shown in flow with the rest of the film. The film shows time of conflict with its use of background sounds, camera angels, and color. In the scene where Rachel is starting to remember pieces of the night that Megan went missing, it is extremely intense. The camera zooms in and out, and there is intensely high pitching sounds and voices in the background. The energy of this scene is illustrated so perfectly to fit the emotions that Rachel is feeling. We don’t see much solution in this film until the very last scene of the film. At this point the camera is steady throughout the entire scene, the colors brighten up from grey and blues to yellows and greens to interpret the mood of the scene. I think both the conflicts and solutions told the story and showed the struggles that Rachel faced throughout.
One of the main values or symbols in The Girl on the Train is lust. Rachel, a once happily married publicist, is now riding the train everyday to the city and back just watching life go by her. She fantasizes about the perfect suburban life that she once had as she drives past it day after day. Megan is a pretty blonde who lives in a beautiful home in Ardsley-on-Hudson with her handsome husband, Scott. Rachel gets so caught up in Megan’s life that she goes completely crazy when she hears the new of her missing. She treats this case as something so personal to her, yet she has not even met Megan once.