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'Girl on the Train' goes off the rails in film noir journey

 'Girl on the Train' goes off the rails in film noir journey
Nicki Aycox and Henry Ian Cusick star in "The Girl on the Train." (Monterey Media)

"The Girl on the Train" aspires to be a film noir in the vein of "The Usual Suspects," but it proves to be a paper-thin plot ornamented with distractions: a nonlinear narrative, unreliable narrators, flatulent dialogue and awkward post-production work.

Filmmaker Danny (Henry Ian Cusick) is traveling to interview Holocaust survivor Morris Herzman (David Margulies) for a documentary. Onboard an upstate-bound train out of New York's Grand Central, Danny becomes captivated by Lexi (Nicki Aycox). First he stalks her. Then she tasks him with stalking two men.

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The time-jumping narrative — in which Danny recalls events in bursts of flashbacks to Det. Martin (Stephen Lang) — leaves little mystery as it establishes from the outset that femme fatale Lexi's looks are deceiving.

Writer-director Larry Brand is all too eager to show off his cleverness. Bad dialogue and Cinemax aesthetics make all the clichés seem even more clichéd.

Supposing there's a point to the film, it might be to not let facts get in the way of a good story. Morris seems to have been inspired by Herman Rosenblat, a Holocaust survivor whose memoir turned out to contain fabricated elements. Brand attempts to draw a parallel between Morris and Lexi, but there's hardly any similarity aside from their pathological lying.

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'The Girl on the Train'

MPAA rating: R for language and violence

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Playing: At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles

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