Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Allison Janney, Laura Prepon, Lisa Kudrow, Justin Theroux (Rated MA – 107 min).
There are traumatic moments within this mysteriously kinky thriller that may cause uncomfortable sighs or gasps during voyeuristic images, which like the multiple characters involved, are all seemingly connected to one fatal incident. Think of it as a sexy, deadly diary of a mad housewife with kitchen utensils.
On her daily commute to work, Rachel (Emily Blunt) sits on a train guzzling cheap vodka from a designer water bottle judging fellow passengers or gazing out the window in a self inflicted haze. Once happily married to Tom (Justin Theroux), she is now damaged, broken down mentally and a complete anti-social wreck.
His new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) is living the life Rachel had always wanted and is not happy with the late night drunken messages in hope of getting Tom back. During the train rides, Rachel has become familiar and unusually obsessed with various people she only views while whizzing past their homes. One in particular is Megan (Haley Bennett) who is spotted one day embracing a different gentleman to whom Rachel has always seen before. Her crazy mind wanders mixed with the excessive alcohol consumption accumulating in a borderline split personality.
Things hit rock bottom during another bender after Rachel approaches someone she thinks may be Megan. The rest of her memory is a blackout and now someone has been murdered within the same area, police are involved.
Based on the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, the story has been slightly tweaked. However lurid creepy erotic shock tactics recall classics Basic Instinct (1992) or Fatal Attraction (1987) – just not quite as good. Close to being Oscar worthy giving her all in the central performance, ‘big eyes’ Emily Blunt afflicts self hatred and desperation to perfection. Equaling her, Haley Bennett, who attentively keeps the audience guessing as Megan backing up her underappreciated, strong recent role in The Magnificent Seven.
My biggest problem is momentum which fails to maintain solidarity to the end of the line. Tate Taylor (The Help) was the wrong choice for director, he weakens atmosphere when it should be heightened. A minor indiscretion of film-making shortcomings that this entire ensemble cast more than enough make up for.
Shane A. Bassett
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