“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.
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.
‘The Girl on the Train’
MPAA rating: R for language and violence
Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Playing: At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles