The Girl on the Train

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Girl on the Train Movie Poster Image
Taut book-based thriller has drinking, violence, sex.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Lots of betrayal and doubt. Rachel sometimes can't recall what happened the night before; when people tell her what she did, it's sometimes hard for her to believe them. But she learns to trust her own judgment, even when all the evidence seems against it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rachel is an alcoholic who can't get over her divorce, even though her ex-husband is remarried with a new baby. She's bitter that he seems to have the perfect life, while she definitely doesn't. She eventually realizes that everything isn't as perfect as it looks. Other characters aren't what they seem; lots of flaws on display. Characters, both male and female, don't have a lot of depth; women are often portrayed as icy.

Violence

Several scenes of people getting drunk and violent, throwing bottles and other objects against the wall or knocking things off tables. Also several fight scenes; people literally fight for their lives with whatever objects are nearby. They're pretty brutal and realistic and can be tough to stomach for some viewers. Some blood shown. A murder is at the center of the story; a sense of danger/menace hangs over the movie. References to domestic abuse.

Sex

Couples kiss, cuddle, and have sex -- in bed, outdoors, and in the shower. Pretty graphic thrusting and grinding, but little sensitive nudity -- except for one key moment (which isn't a love scene) that shows a nude woman from behind.

Language

Frequent but not constant swearing mostly includes variations of "f--k" and "s--t," with the occasional "bitch," "ass," and "damn" thrown in.

Consumerism

The main characters frequently use iPhones; one scene also features an iPad.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character is a hardcore alcoholic who consistently gets blackout drunk, waking up with little or no recollection of what happened the night before. She drinks in bars with strangers and acquaintances and also at home by herself. She's often nursing a water bottle filled with vodka and frequently gets sloppy-drunk and belligerent.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller based on Paula Hawkins' best-selling novel. It's about Rachel (Emily Blunt), a bitter ex-wife and blackout alcoholic who fixates on a seemingly happy couple she watches from the train. Then the woman (Haley Bennett) goes missing, and Rachel wakes up covered in blood, unable to remember the night before. Expect tense, violent confrontations, as well as graphic scenes of people fighting for their lives. Drinking is constant but not glamorized: Rachel is often shown sloppily, belligerently drunk and horribly hung over. Characters have sex in bed, outdoors, and the shower, though sensitive nudity is limited to a non-sexual shot of a naked woman shown from behind. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and more.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byLivingLovingLearning October 7, 2016

Exposing psychological & emotional domestic violence.

(*possible spoiler alert*) I found the sex most inappropriate for youth, it IS an adult movie. A young woman seeming to behave like sex addict and almost patho... Continue reading
Adult Written byCory S. October 8, 2016

Intense. Too intense.

This movie has very dramatic plot lines weaved throughout. It is very sad seeing the betrayal, lust, and lies that one of the characters has caused. Scenes of s... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byPipeCine October 9, 2016

Tate Taylor's Thriller Is The Best Since "Gone Girl" by David Fincher

It becomes iterative to affirm that Hollywood is going through a rough creative standstill, proof of this, clearly, endless adaptations of best-sellers, but, do... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bysgt123 October 23, 2016

What's the story?

In THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, Rachel (Emily Blunt) is a serious alcoholic who's fixated on her ex-husband (Justin Theroux), his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson), their baby, and their seemingly perfect life. Every day Rachel rides the train right past her old home -- now their home -- intently looking for clues about the life she's missing out on. She's also become fixated on a couple that lives a few doors down. They seem just as happy together, until one day the wife (Haley Bennett) goes missing, and Rachel wakes up covered in blood, with no recollection of what she did the night before.

Is it any good?

This thriller is atmospheric and suspenseful, like the best-selling Paula Hawkins novel it's based on. And it has a strong star in Blunt, who carries the weight of Rachel's alcohol dependency, an awful cocktail mixed with grief and self-hatred. But the film lacks heft. It captures the escape that voyeurism provides -- who among us hasn't looked into apartments, cars, or, yes, trains as they pass by, wondering about the lives of the people in them? But its heroes and villains are painted with a one-dimensional brush, either evil and angry, icy (usually the female characters), or simply a big hot mess. (This might explain the unintended audience laughs at inopportune moments.)

It almost feels like a lot of The Girl on the Train's potential was left on the cutting room floor, taken out for brevity or simplicity. But characters like these deserve complex treatment. And audiences need more than just the (expected) twist in the end if you want to leave them puzzling over a movie after the credits roll. What we get instead is an interesting enough, creepy enough experience, but with a healthy dash of "seen this before."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Girl on the Train depicts drinking. Is it glamorized? Are the consequences realistic? Why does that matter?

  • How does the violence in this movie compare to what you've seen in other thrillers and/or horror movies? Do some kinds of violence have more impact than others?

  • How does Rachel demonstrate empathy for the woman she fixates on? Does that make her a more appealing/sympathetic character? Are we intended to like her?

  • If you've read the book: How closely does the film follow it? What's different? Why do you think the filmmakers decided to make those changes?

  • What do you think about the way couples are portrayed in the film? Can you ever really know what someone else's relationship is really like in private?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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