The Girl on the Train movie full length review - Feminist Propaganda
TGOTT is two films in one. The first is a ruthless, unflinching portrait of the female unconscious.
For the first half of the movie, the most politically incorrect (and universal) feminine fantasies are presented to us: being married, being beaten, being bad, possessing a baby...but above all, being unsatisfied. After the first half hour, I was ready to give Paula Hawkins a medal for breaking the feminist omerta and showing us how dark it can get in there.
By the time a drunk Emily Blunt smashed a mirror with a golf club, I began to wonder when the other shoe was going to drop. We are simply not allowed today to think that women are capable of evil. The unofficial censors would never let such a truthful portrayal of feminine indigence, jealousy, and rage to appear on the screen without brushing it under the rug through some clever legerdemain.
I was right. A handy-dandy scapegoat is soon trotted out to take the fall.
Of the three main female characters, two experience themselves as lacking, whereas the third, Anna, experiences herself as full. Why? Because she has a baby. The other two want that baby. They want it bad. Freud is clear here: in the female unconscious, the baby is the ultimate phallus substitute. No one cares about life, or the world, or politics, or the economy, or music, or philosophy, or anything else...all they care about is that damn baby.
The three male characters are all figments of the female imagination. One is the nice guy (the therapist), one is the fiery fantasy lover from romance novels (Scott), and one is the "real man" (Tom), which is to say, a frigid woman's fantasy of what a man is: a heartless player whose only pleasure in life lies in humiliating women.
TGOTT is a regressive, chilling female fantasy. Rather than facing their own inner emptiness, the three women in this film prefer to project it onto a man who has the nerve to possess a phallus. The terrible thing is that penis envy does not have to be the horizon of feminine sexuality. Read Maria Torok. Where I live, in Paris, it is still occasionally possible to meet courageous women who do not accept the life-negating ethics of revenge and reparation trumpeted by today's triumphant feminism and personified by Hillary Clinton.
None of the women in this movie actually like sex. All they care about are babies. How depressing. No wonder Tom is so frustrated. He cannot find a woman who is not frigid. Welcome to 21st century America, Tom. Something awful happens to a woman when she begins to need a baby. She dies to the world of desire. Life contracts to a single, sterile point. Unfortunately, in our puritanical society, the dark side of maternity is something that we are not prepared to see. Paula Hawkins glimpses it, but she doesn't have the balls to take it to its logical conclusion.
TGOTT is a dangerous film for women. Rachel was in a position to learn something about herself at the beginning of the movie. The path to the truth always lies through a traversal of one's constitutive abjection. I liked the alcoholic Rachel. Drinking too much and not working are reasonable, authentic responses to the awful world we live in today. But Rachel is too attached to conformity and narcissism to pursue her psychoanalysis to its term. The film must be read as a series of dreams produced by a patient undergoing analysis. The only "true" scenes in the movie are the scenes with Rachel and the therapist. Everything else is a distortion. The three characters are three aspects of her unconscious. When she begins to come too close to the ugly and dangerous fantasies that haunt her and make her ill (she is mutilated, empty, barren, castrated, humiliated, abject, a stain), she cooks up a pathetic fairy tale about an evil ex-husband whose dark penis is responsible for the suffering of not one but three separate plucky women. The deus ex machina Tom absolves her of taking any responsibility for her own alcoholic suffering. A competent psychoanalyst would know how to liquidate this convenient screen-fantasy and shepherd Rachel to a more authentic relationship with her own unconscious. But Kamal is not a competent analyst. He privileges her neurotic desire for revenge (killing the husband by penetrating him with her imaginary phallus, now transformed into a corkscrew) over a traversal of her penis envy, which alone might lead her to the discovery that the essence of femininity is not lack and emptiness so great it can only be filled with a baby, but rather a plenitude that is not endangered by the existence of masculine desire.
But that isn't what happens. We live in a world in which we are constantly thrown back on our most regressive fantasies. After all, a society of emotionally mutilated men and women for whom sex and love are mercantile transactions grounded in lack and resentment is a society of perfect consumers. By the end of the movie, Rachel is cleaned up and ready to go back to her soulless corporate job in Public Relations, which is to say, as a propagandist for a corrupt capitalist order. In other words, she becomes Paula Hawkins.