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The Girl on the Train: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

The Girl on the Train (2016) movie poster The Girl on the Train

Theatrical Release: October 7, 2016 / Running Time: 112 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Tate Taylor / Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay); Paula Hawkins (novel)

Cast: Emily Blunt (Rachel Watson), Haley Bennett (Megan Hipwell), Rebecca Ferguson (Anna Watson), Justin Theroux (Tom Watson), Luke Evans (Scott Hipwell), Edgar Ramírez (Dr. Kamal Abdic), Laura Prepon (Cathy), Allison Janney (Detective Riley), Darren Goldstein (Man in the Suit), Lisa Kudrow (Martha)

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The Girl on the Train was overtly designed to be the Gone Girl of 2016. Like David Fincher's 2014 hit,
Train adapts a recent bestselling novel and tells a mystery involving a disappearance/murder investigation, infidelity, and picturesque married couples with secret strain. As if those parallels and the use of Girl in the title weren't enough to link them, there was the fact that this one opened on the first full weekend of October just like Gone Girl did two years earlier.

Unfortunately, this Girl doesn't have a maestro like Fincher at the helm but Tate Taylor, the competent director of The Help and Get On Up. And instead of Gillian Flynn adapting her own text, we get Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe, Men, Women & Children) translating British novelist Paula Hawkins' 2015 book. Needless to say, the results aren't as dynamite as those of Fincher's film, but Girl on the Train still manages to deliver a compelling psychological ride, at least until its final act frustrates with twists that do not seem to add up at all.

As Rachel Watson, Emily Blunt plays the titular character in "The Girl on the Train."

Emily Blunt stars as Rachel Watson, a British New Yorker in PR who takes the Metro-North train from Ardsley to Grand Central and back every day. She spends her ride looking at the houses near the tracks and one in particular that belongs to Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), a pretty young woman who seems to have what Rachel has lost: a happy marriage and passionate love life.

But looks can be deceiving and in this movie, they always are. Megan is quietly miserable, not sharing the desire for children of her husband Scott (Luke Evans) and no longer wanting to be a nanny to the young child of Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and Tom (Justin Theroux). Tom is Rachel's ex-husband, a seemingly perfect guy she evidently drove away with a drinking problem. The problem has only gotten worse as Rachel drinks straight vodka out of her water bottle and still pines for her old house and life.

When Megan goes missing, seemingly every other lead is a suspect. That includes her therapist (Édgar Ramírez), with whom she may have been having an affair. Rachel doesn't have the best of alibis, having woken up bloodied and with no memory whatsoever from what happened on that Friday night leading to her blackout. Detective Riley (Allison Janney) eyes her suspiciously and with seemingly good reason, based on the way that the film is presented.

The object of Rachel's voyeurism, Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett) disappears under upsetting circumstances.

You know a movie like this will have twists you're not supposed to see coming. Indeed, it does. But they're not the kind of twists that stand up to thought or scrutiny.
They answer questions and absolve certain parties, but they're not something that you are given any reason to suspect. That leaves the ending feeling like a pulpy cop-out of caricature, one which undermines the intriguing web the movie has until then been weaving. It's no Gone Girl. But then, very few thrillers are.

At least the film does a decent job of channeling Hitchcock and keeping us interested for its first 90 minutes or so. Blunt is as magnetic as she ever has been, sinking her teeth into a damaged, alcohol-addled protagonist. Her supporting cast is also quite good. Last fall, Bennett emerged as a talent you couldn't foresee from her limited and somewhat lapsed theatrical resume. Ramírez and Evans make cases for you to know them by name, even if the latter is at the center of the film's flimsiest and phoniest scene. Theroux, who until now has been more accomplished as a screenwriter and is perhaps best known for being Jennifer Aniston's husband, does what he can with a challenging role.

It seems clear by now that Taylor is only as good as his source material and, without having read it, I can only assume Hawkins' text is not without some of the same issues as the film. As expected, Girl was more of a commercial success than a critical one, grossing a solid $75 million domestic and $172 M worldwide on a $45 million budget.

In my theatrical review, I said that Blunt is good and overdue enough to expect some awards contention, especially at the Golden Globes who had already nominated her for four film honors in addition to one television win. And while she did not draw a nomination there, she did pick up Lead Actress nods from both the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards, precursors that might point to her drawing her first Oscar nomination. If that happens (and it would require her overcoming the considerable goodwill and slight backlash that Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech provoked just when the Oscar ballots were out), it would almost definitely be the film's only Oscar nomination, which would further the comparisons to Gone Girl, which also earned a Best Actress nomination, and (shockingly) nothing else at the Academy Awards.

Girl on the Train hits stores this week in the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here, as well as a 4K Ultra HD edition and a standalone DVD.

The Girl on the Train: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.85:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA X (English), 5.1 DTS (Spanish, French), DTS 2.0 X Headphone (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, French), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9 & BD-50)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP), in 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($44.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Girl on the Train boasts the slick production values of a mid-budgeted studio movie. That unsurprisingly yields a fine Blu-ray presentation with sharp, immaculate 1.85:1 picture and tastefully enveloping 7.1 DTS X sound.

Some additional Tom Watson (Justin Theroux) moments are preserved in the deleted & extended scenes section. Author Paula Hawkins discusses "The Women Behind 'The Girl.'"

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Extras begin with a deleted and extended scenes section, which runs 17 minutes and 38 seconds and consists of 14 scenes. They offer more of drunken Rachel at Grand Central,

Megan in therapy, and Tom with his new family. While not game changers, these cuts are also not significantly worse than what's in the film, so many should enjoy them.

"The Women Behind The Girl" (5:04) briefly celebrates the film as a character study with comments led by author Paula Hawkins regarding the story, the adaptation, and the three female protagonists.

"On Board The Train" (11:25) is a standard and serviceable making-of featurette, which serves up the usual blend of talking heads, behind-the-scenes, and film clips.

Finally, though the deleted scenes were presented without commentary, we do get one of those on the film itself from director Tate Taylor. He does a pretty good job of filling the air with a mix of production details regarding stage and location filming in Westchester County, New York and discussion of dramatic intent, from trying to recreate the structure of the book to figuring out how to feature the corkscrew. But two hours is a long time to talk about anything, and gaps grow more common and substantial as the track progresses.

The discs open with short trailers for Loving, Bleed for This, Desierto, Snowden, and Nocturnal Animals plus a full trailer for Split. These are not accessible by menu and Girl's own trailers are not included at all.

Each disc's menu simply loops a scored montage of clips.

The two plain discs share a standard blue keepcase with an iTunes/UltraViolet-compatible Digital HD insert whose back nets you another Universal movie for free digital download if you act within the next two months. The keepcase is topped by a glossy, mildly embossed slipcover.

Rachel (Emily Blunt) tells Scott (Luke Evans) he knew his wife.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Though not the thriller it wants to be (Gone Girl), The Girl on the Train manages to compel with its psychological drama and suspense for a solid 90 minutes, until it solves its mysteries in an unsatisfying fashion. There is enough to like here, including another great performance from the reliable Emily Blunt, to recommend a viewing.

Universal's combo pack gets the job done with a fine feature presentation and a suitable selection of extras.

Buy The Girl on the Train from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Deepwater HorizonSullyMorganSnowdenBlair WitchFlorence Foster Jenkins
Gone GirlComplete Unknown
Emily Blunt: SicarioInto the WoodsEdge of Tomorrow | Haley Bennett: The EqualizerThe Hole
Edgar Ramirez: JoyHands of Stone | Luke Evans: The RavenThe Great Train Robbery | Justin Theroux: Zoolander
Rebecca Ferguson: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Directed by Tate Taylor: The Help | Written by Erin Cressida Wilson: Men, Women & ChildrenChloe

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Reviewed January 16, 2017.



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