17 October 2016

A Boring Journey

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In the way that my bitch of a step-mother is missing any sense of empathy, compassion, kindness, and even some of her teeth, The Girl On The Train also lacks a fundamental ingredient that it requires to be complete. It's an edge of the seat thriller that seems to have forgotten to be in any way fucking thrilling. I've heard the book it's based on referred to as an 'airport book', which I'd assumed meant it was an enjoyably trashy page turner that you might pick up at the airport for an easy read on your holidays. However having seen the film I can only now assume that it's called an 'airport book' because it's so predictable and boring that once you start reading it you'll want to drop it off in the furthest bin you can find from your house. If you haven't read or heard of the book then perhaps you'll have heard of this movie thanks to the bombardment of trailers that have been trying to sell it as an edge of the seat experience. I agree with this too I suppose, in that I did spend a lot of the movie on the edge of my seat. However this was less to do with how gripped I was and more to do with the fact that as soon as the credits were rolling and I could leave, I'd decided I wanted a sprinting start.

So the film begins with Emily Blunt as the resident alcoholic 'train-crazy' who gets progressively more wankered as the ride goes on. I mean, whenever I've been sat next to the 'train-crazy', they've had less of an attractive A-list actor vibe about them and more of a pissy odour emanating from their Donkey Kong's ball-sack of a face. But you know.. we'll let that one go. She's really good as well, by the way, and possibly one of the few positive things I can say about this movie. As far as convincing drunks go, I'd say her performance is up there with James McAvoy in Filth, Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, and my Dad on one of his drinking days... or as he calls them, “any day that ends in a 'y'”. Anyway, so Blunt's ex-husband lives near the railway in what was once their marital home, with one of her hobbies now being to look out of the window and fantasise about the life of one her old neighbours. I imagine that's one of those activities that could only be close to being fun if you were pissed off your tits. Kind of like playing beer pong or visiting my family. However, and to cut a long story short, she sees something suspicious, gets involved, the neighbour goes missing, and she ends up as a suspect having been too pissed to remember what she actually did. As far as reasons not to drink go, I suppose that's all probably up their with calling a police officer 'sugar tits' and then telling them your theories on who might be to blame for 'all the world wars'.

I guess the first thing you might notice from this film is how much of an influence it's taken from the works of Hitchcock. Like Rear Window it involves a voyeur looking through a window and witnessing something shocking. Like Vertigo it has a preoccupation with both blondes and doppelgängers. Like North By NorthWest it involves a character being accused of a crime they have no knowledge of having committed. And like that other train centred film Strangers On A Train, The Girl On A Train also obviously involves... a murder. Oh, and also a train. However like Hitchcock's 1927 film The Mountain Eagle, I also suspect it won't be long until The Girl On The Train is completely lost. But not lost from the world like Hitchcock's movie, but simply lost from our collective consciousness as we all fail to give enough of a shit to remember it. The main difference between Hitchcock's films and this one it seems is the previously mentioned issue that this one simply isn't thrilling. Because although Hitchcock was known as the master of suspense, The Girl On The Train seems to have taken more inspiration from his now cold, dead pulse than anything else.

The problem for me in regards to why the film took its lead from Hitchcock's eighty year old heart and failed is pretty simple. I'd worked out what the big twist was about thirty minutes into the movie. Which isn't me claiming to be clever, by the way. I hate people who walk out of movies whilst pretending to have predicted everything as a brag when there's clearly no possible way that they did. I had a mate once tell me that Hannibal would probably escape from prison by wearing some guys face as a mask ten minutes into Silence Of The Lambs. Now either that prick had already seen the movie, somebody had told him the end, or he should been strapped up in a lab as scientists stuck pins in his fucking brain to unlock the secrets of clairvoyance. Either way, he didn't work it out and he was just trying to show off. I know this as a fact by the way because I then spent the next three hours forcing him to break down the thought process that had led him to reaching this conclusion like I was a member of the fucking Gestapo. So I'm not trying to show off by claiming that I knew exactly how this movie would end as soon as the crime bullshit kicked in. It's just a fact that I did. God.. I'm so clever...

I'm going to explain vaguely how I sussed it here so as much as I'll do my best to avoid spoilers but don't blame me if you haven't seen it and I give too much away. In a way, I feel kind of sorry for the filmmakers here because obviously the joy of a thriller is being sucker-punched by the reveal at the end. They therefore have to litter the film with enough clues that the twist is meaningful but not so many that they accidentally give the game away. Like eating as much cheese as I do, whilst simultaneously trying to remain alive - it's a hard thing to try to balance. I don't think that it was any fault of theirs that the game was given away either. Well, I suppose wondering why the house Nanny that ended up missing wanted to quit her job so abruptly was one clue. She claimed it was to pursue a career in art however Nannys usually only quit this abruptly for one reason, and it's not to go and do some fucking doodles.. is it Arnold Schwarzenegger?! However beyond that, it seems to me that the plot is just riddled with cliches. If you've seen more than a couple of thrillers then you can probably whittle it down from the amount of characters involved alone. There's only five and I think we can rule out the missing girl, and the two other characters that the film is trying to make us think killed her. I guess we can call them 'Red' and 'Herring'. That leaves two that it could be and one is much more integral to everybodies lives than the other.. so thirty minutes in I thought, “It's probably that person isn't it? It is? Oh. How much longer does this film have left? Oh for fucks-sake!”

However I know the end of Fight Club now that I've seen it, but it still stands up to multiple viewings - so does working the end out so early really make that much of a difference? Well, yeah. Because the joy in re-watching a successful thriller is in constantly picking up on and admiring the little clues that you missed the first time. But as we've just mentioned, I didn't miss any the first time. Because it's so obvious and because I'm so clever. Don't forget the bit about me being clever. However the other reason I love Fight Club (for example) is because I find everything that happens in that movie so interesting and watchable. Who knew that you could make so much money from selling soap? And who knew that teasing people with acid could be so much fun?! Fight Club has more than just the twist at the end going on, whereas The Girl On The Train really doesn't. In fact, I live quite close to Liverpool and ironically this film itself is very much like going there on a train ride. You know exactly where you're going, you're not really that arsed about getting there, and you're pretty confident that you've easily identified at least one murderer. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.