The girl on the train

So glad I am not thirty any more!

This is a dark tale of female obsession, women distraught around losing babies or being unable to conceive, and female pretence and denial, carrying on with the daily commute a year after losing the job because of heavy drinking. Has she killed someone? She stalks those involved with a woman who has disappeared.

An unreliable narrator is hard to show on film, but each scene could have been a memory distorted by wish in the way of those habitual liars who believe their fantasy, even after it becomes risible to all others. Three psycho bitches, drinking heavily and being horrible to the mostly decent men.

Sit down, says the male victim to the flaky woman who pretended to be his wife’s friend, and has got him suspected of being her murderer. You know what’s coming next. SIT DOWN! he shouts, and she sits, and he stands over her, and he is merely being reasonable.

She finds a phone and throws it away. She has a perfect marriage. She loves her husband. The phone, which incriminates him, could not be true.

She could do with a chap-stick, said Jayne. Yes, I had noticed her lips. This ordinary commuter woman, in the nice-enough coat, her lips are the first thing I notice not quite right about her. Then ordinary normal things become nightmarish: she takes a pull on her water-bottle, but later we see her fill it with vodka. Surely after five hours she cannot remember, waking up with blood on her temple, she will turn her life around, and we see her at AA, making a really awful confession- but she drinks again.

The film plays with my desire to identify with the main character. She does embarrassing things, and I feel embarrassment, hot and harsh as she shames herself. And then I know she is a liar, a fantasist, a stalker, a baby-stealer, and possibly a murderer. My sympathy drains, and I feel horror for her. Her vulnerability starts as engaging and becomes pitiable.

I may do spoilers in the comments if anyone asks, but all I want to say is that this is a portrayal of a particular kind of relationship a woman can have with a man, and we are shown his complete decency and reasonableness, his caring as she becomes more flaky, and his escape when she becomes unbearable. He finds happiness with another woman. Empathising with the woman we go down into darkness. It is intensely uncomfortable and cathartic.

I did not apply for that job because I felt disgust contemplating the form, disgust for myself and my inadequacy, and how horrible the table- dates, job title, main duties, salary- or personal statement, how you fit the Essential Requirements, how I clearly do not, how I would never get it and only show my uselessness. So I have not tried. All that experience of working, all that experience of interviews, but it is my own judgment which prevents me from going through that again. And my own judgment is too harsh.

3 thoughts on “The girl on the train

  1. It is indeed. A propos of not much, can I have a judgement of myself that is harsh, but fairly so?

    I found the Book very irritating, because it uses headings, and timelines all over the place, suggesting to the editor in me that that author needed these crutches to guide the narrative, because….? It is one of the true nuisances of editing that it makes me fussier than I used to be.

    XXXX

    Liked by 1 person

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