Commuter Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), from the window of her train. One day, Watson witnesses something shocking unfold in the backyard of the strangers’ home. Rachel tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that Megan is now missing and feared dead. Unable to trust her own memory, the troubled woman begins her own investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.
Of course another film based on a book I haven’t read so I can’t really speak to its accuracy. Ever since the first trailer, this one had me and made it one of my most anticipated films of 2016. This heightened my own expectations seeing that it gave off Gone Girl/Fincher vibes. This ended up being a wrong characterization but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing since this was its own film.
For those who haven’t read the book, this one is about a woman named Rachel Watson (Blunt), who while she rides the train every day, she likes to catch glimpses of the people who live on the street she used to live. She liked to watch a couple named Scott (Evans) and Megan (Bennett) Hipwell as well as her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Once Megan suddenly disappears after Rachel witnesses something shocking in the Hipwell backyard. This makes Rachel begin to question herself as can’t trust her own memory. What doesn’t help is that Rachel is now a suspect.
The majority of the film’s story is told via flashbacks, chronicling Rachel and her relationship with Tom and Anna while also following Scott and Megan during the moments leading up to Megan’s disappearance. Through this, we got some background on these other characters but the majority of the film focused on Rachel, which again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it kind of took away from the other characters. This would have helped us to better understand their relationships and their connection to Rachel.
Heavily focusing on Rachel is not a bad choice since, purposely or not, she was the only character worth caring about. She wasn’t a perfect person by any means but this was what made her compelling to watch. Seeing her life unravelling due to her alcoholism and then seeing her try to pull herself back together as she tried to find out what happened was fun to watch. Seeing the parallels between the Hipwell marriage falling apart and that of the Watsons was not as strong but the film didn’t go far enough with it. There was more going on but it almost didn’t matter as it only served to vaguely establish Scott as a suspect in her disappearance.
The only real thing both groups had in common was that they were both struggling with starting a family and that both wives (or at least Megan and Anna) were blondes. Throughout her many glances, Rachel kept seeing herself in them as these would trigger memories of her own life. It is unclear whether her alcoholism caused her behavior or if it was mental illness but it affected her relationships with Tom and Anna. Despite her many problems, it was easy to feel bad about her for all that’s happened and it’s hard to blame her for what she did.
Even though Tom has moved on from Rachel and is now with Anna, she hasn’t moved on as she is still obsessed with them, especially Tom. She would visit their house often and also frequently call and text Tom. This would happen so much that it started to scare Anna. Funny since his house is only a few houses down from the Hipwells. Everytime she saw her old house, she would be reminded of the life they spent together.
The other suspect they tried to establish was Megan’s psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez). This was where we got the most insight into Megan and Scott’s relationship. There would be several scenes where she would tell him about how bad of a person Scott was juxtaposed with them being a lot closer than she was saying. Apparently unsatisfied with her current marriage, she started to fall for Abdic which was weird and just made her very unlikable.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there is a twist here and without giving anything away, did not have as big of an impact as it should have because of the lead up to it. Some who have read the book may probably already know it but without the proper lead up, it just felt rushed. The plot leading up to this was a little on the slow side as it focused more on Rachel’s problems, feeding us the story one piece at a time, than finding out what happened to Megan.
The production values were good here with the film being well shot and the immersive score. The acting from Blunt was the best part of the film as she expertly captured Rachel’s troubled state, with her alcoholism and her obsession. She was very captivating to watch. While the performance could have been melodramatic, she was able to overcome this thanks to her likability. Bennett was okay despite her character being immensely unlikable. Ferguson and Theroux were also okay despite being wasted. Evans was okay despite Scott being one-dimensional. Ramirez’s Abdic was kind of pointless.
Overall, while not as expected, this was still a fun thriller with a shallow story, elevated by Blunt’s excellent performance.