12 July 2010 | secondtake
Frustrating, a key social theme diluted and squandered
The Girl on the Train (2009)
The hook that made this movie successful is not enough to make the movie good. The added plot in the first half fizzles and seems ultimately irrelevant. Yes, the main actress plays the part of an "airhead," as the subtitle translates her stupidity. But the movie itself has some of the same disease. It lacks formal intelligence, and it stretches out a few basic ideas over 105 minutes, posing as a serious movie with serious implications.
Not that it's misery to watch. In a way, the fact that you get sucked in waiting and waiting for some basic conflict to formulate says something about the acting and editing. This is contemporary Paris, or a cozy, idealized side to it. And you can't dismiss the theme of anti-Semitism, which gets some elaboration and complexity as you go, including some great, if simplified, conversations between Jews at their country house about what it means to be a contemporary Jew. It's conveniently packaged, but adds some needed interest to the events.
This leads eventually to a rather long and oddly placed bar mitzvah celebration, and some more roller blading filler. It's a frustrating thing to see all this content watered down by a single turn of events, the faked hate crime attack, which happens well past the halfway point of the movie. And around which the suspense of being fooled is left out of the movie, because we are told everything as it happens.