Based on the massively successful novel by Paula Hawkins, Rachel (Emily Blunt) commutes daily on the train and everyday she watches the seemingly perfect couple that live near the tracks but when the perfect wife (Haley Bennett) goes missing, Rachel wants to help but being an alcoholic she is an extremely unreliable witness. She desperately tries to help while dealing with her addiction, her ex-husband (Justin Theroux), his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) and the police detective that isn’t quite sure of Rachel’s place in all of this (Allison Janney).
First and foremost, there really is a great cast here and it is lead by the strongest of them, Emily Blunt who is simply one of the best actresses out there, not only because of her talent and ability to do such different roles but in the fact that she is simply a ridiculously likeable person (how else would you bag the roll of Mary Poppins?). Blunt in this role is fascinating, it’s almost difficult to watch her portraying a person that has so little grip on her own reality, she’s a mess and it’s far from what audiences will have seen of her before and yet she’s perfect for it; she creates a definite sense of sympathy for the character while keeping you on the edge of unsure what she’s really capable of. Justin Theroux also does very well here, his reputation as a film actor is relatively small, many may struggle to forget his appearance in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, but this is definitely his best role to date in film; he shows much more talent and ability than he has before, it’s a refined version which can be appreciated. Our other two main women, Bennett and Ferguson both are great in their roles but there is definitely a separation between them and blunt, they’re undoubtedly secondary characters. Bennett feels like an actress on the rise who could become someone very interesting, with her roles in this film as well as The Magnificent 7, she’s shown audiences that she is capable, as Megan she’s given a real view into her talent as an actress. Ferguson feels somewhat underused however, more so than Bennett and it’s a real shame after having carried the last Mission Impossible film, she hasn’t had a chance to really take charge and shine, she’s still on the edges. Lastly, Janney is an actress you can never complain about she’s simply brilliant and it’s great to see her in a different role, as a detective and she’s proved it’s one she should definitely explore more in the future.
It feels as though in recent years, thrillers have migrated from film to television, with countless series pulling in viewers each week, which has left cinemas without some real mystery, until now. The story itself cannot claim to be entirely unpredictable, some of you will be guessing who did it and correctly before the film ends but it is irrelevant because it in now way dampens the enjoyment of the film. At some points it does however feel like it’s missing something, it builds the suspense but there’s fairly little happening at several points and almost as though it’s moving slightly too slow but you can see what they’re trying to achieve, even if it isn’t quite perfect. The tone and aesthetics of the film stay in the dark, at no point does it suddenly feel light and happy, it is a constant theme of suspicion and ominous, helped by the perfectly appropriate score composed by the ever brilliant Danny Elfman. Though it may not be so far as to say that the film is carried by Blunt’s performance but it’s certainly the centrepiece, it almost feels more important to see what will happen to Rachel than to figure out where our missing woman is, which considering the lay out of the film as a back and forth timeline, it doesn’t create any negative affect.
If you were to go simply on the massive lack of films like this in cinemas, this would be one of the best films of the year automatically, because it’s giving audiences something that’s been sorely missed but judging it based solely on its own merits, is slightly different. Blunt is exceptional here and her co-stars all do well, there’s no real complaints to be made in that regard but it’s missing something, it’s dark and ominous and it gives you that real sense of unease at what may happen at any minute given our protagonists volatility but the story itself does not hit you hard enough, it doesn’t come across with enough significance. It’s enjoyable, a great watch which is well worth the trip, especially for any Blunt fans but it just hits a little below the mark unfortunately.