Sunday, March 22, 2020

Review of "The Girl on the Train"

Review of

The Girl on the Train

Four out of five stars

Temporal shifts and false memories confuse the viewer

 Most murder mystery stories start some background to introduce the characters, have a murder or two and then sequentially step through the investigation. Generally, there will be hints and clues dropped, some of which are relevant, but others that are meant to distract and confuse. In this one, the distract and confuse is done by temporal shifting and false memories, where there will be snippets from some time in the past and recollections that are sometimes more of a delusion by transfer of role in the events.

 Rachel is a woman that commutes on a train along a track with water on one side and the back of a row of houses on the other. She generally sits on the side of the houses, so she occasionally sees the people in their back yards, or on their decks. Two of the people that she regularly sees are Scott and Megan and they are often embracing. Yet, one day she sees Megan with another man.

 Rachel is heavy into alcohol, so she often has blackouts and her memory is very unreliable. When Megan turns up missing and then found dead, Rachel tries to get her mind in order and put her memories back in the realm of reality. For it is clear early on that she was likely the last person other than the murderer to see Megan alive.

 The story bounces back and forth and Rachel is depicted as very unstable to the point of delusional, which is what she is. She is also a stalker, appearing suddenly at the home of her ex-husband and his new wife. She once even walked into their home and took their baby outside while the wife was sleeping.

 Like a good murder mystery, the viewer is kept puzzled until the very end when all of it falls into place. Whether Rachel ever gets over the bottle and makes something of herself remains an unknown. The performances are excellent, all the usual suspects remain ambiguous to the extent that the viewer cannot determine the guilty.

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