Commuter Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott and Megan, (Luke Evans and Hayley Bennett) from the window of her train. As chance would have it, they live a few doors down from Rachel’s former home where her ex, Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and young child reside.
One day, she 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, she begins her own traumatic investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.
We soon learn that Rachel is an alcoholic slipping vodka from a water bottle. She’s lost her job and her alimony money appears to be spent on a season ticket to nowhere; which is where she’s heading for, faster than the express train can take her.
Is Rachel is an unreliable witness; both to her own feelings and has she truly lost the plot? Well, the plot line itself depends on it. If her version of reality is coloured by the bottle and her ex’s account of what happens when she hit it too hard, then can we really believe anything she tells us?
Emily Blunt is excellent as a woman falling apart before our very eyes – her own blood stained eyes revealing desperation and determination in equal measure. Seeing is disbelieving and if she can’t trust herself how can the viewer hope to distinguish fact from fiction?
Both couples suspect her motives, hardly surprising when she doubts her own intentions at times. Is she stalking her ex, and what designs does she have on his young child? Pretending to be a friend of the missing Megan, to her husband, to search for clues, hardly helps her cause, either.
This is a film where the search for truth (who killed Megan) seems, in part, an internal search for redemption and self-belief. Where’s there’s murder, manipulation is never far away and relationships are rarely what they seem. The fate of Rachel and the two couples are inextricably linked. It gradually becomes a case of working out who has the most to lose and to hide – and that doesn’t just apply to Rachel.
Add in a psychiatrist (Edgar Ramirez) and it soon becomes clear that Rachel is not the only troubled soul on the street.
Strong female leads and an all-female finale ensures that The Girl on a Train will leave you gripping the carriage rails. Buy a return ticket and ride with Rachel in this tale of suburban subterfuge, side-tracked all the time by false signs – just don’t pay much attention to the announcements on the way.