**1/2 stars (out of four)
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train is a melodramatic thriller that should mostly hold viewers’ attention.
Emily Blunt plays Rachel, an alcoholic still reeling from her divorce and her inability to have children. Compounding her distress is the fact that her husband married his mistress (Rebecca Ferguson) and had a child with her. Every morning on the train, Blunt sees a young woman (The Magnificent Seven’s Haley Bennett) in seeming domestic bliss with her husband (Luke Evans). Rachel becomes obsessed to the point of stalker-level behavior and she becomes a suspect when Bennett mysteriously disappears on an evening when Blunt became blackout drunk (a common occurrence for her).
Director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) is a solid filmmaker, but he and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson can’t quite elevate this story the way David Fincher was able to do with the equally lurid Gone Girl. It’s trashy and over-the-top at times, but it’s never dull.
The film’s ace-in-the-hole is Blunt. Even when Rachel descends into downright creepy behavior, Blunt manages to keep her human and sympathetic. In lesser hands, this role could’ve been a one-dimensional hot mess. But Blunt keeps the character and the film from going off the rails.