Ever looked out the window while on a train? Wondered about the ordinary people living in ordinary two-storey Californian bungalows? What if during your daily travels you saw a young beauty, canoodling with a man who wasn’t her husband? Would you laugh or be physically repulsed, because your marriage was broken by infidelity? How involved would you become if she suddenly went missing?

This is obviously a fantasy-thriller, as the last time I saw people looking out a train window was because their battery had died… or exploded. This is based on a best-selling novel and has an interesting structure, where we meet Rachel (Emily Blunt), Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and Megan (Haley Bennett) separately. Rachel is Tom’s ex (Justin Theroux), Anna is his next and Megan is their nanny.

Rachel is a bit of a poor protagonist. She’s a maudlin alcoholic, who prefers to watch life as it slips away from her. They say alcoholics are the best people to go drinking with, but Rachel is no fun. She absent mindedly abducts a child, lies about her unemployment and spends days travelling around on trains. And she’s pretty attractive for a bag lady. Blunt is very convincing, almost too realistic. Her performance is outstanding and saves this.

At many points this feels like a drama until its twist, then it’s a taught thriller. What seemed unstructured, comes together.

Tate Taylor‘s direction is good, but the jumps back and forth in time and memory caused confusion. The Danny Elfman soundtrack and acting – special mention to Allison Janney as the cop – are good enough to keep you engaged, but the characters don’t. There isn’t enough moral fibre to knit a hankerchief from this lot, and middle-class whites are hardly worth worrying about. But the story keeps you engrossed.

This is a good, tight thriller but I never felt the gut tighten to the point of squirming. Fans of the novel may be disappointed, and maybe taking it from the English burbs to a middle class American neighbourhood is part of the problem. But Blunt carries the day.

Con’s Score: Three opal cards

Con Nats – Talking Arts