This is not an easy or fun film to watch, but it is one of those you see for the performance alone. Emily Blunt (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) delivers one of the saddest and ugliest characters in a long time. Her portrayal of Rachel is painful to watch, and at no time does she apologize or forgive her actions. That takes guts when you’re building a career.
The story itself, adapted from Walker’s novel by Erin Wilson (Chloe), was a huge challenge to present believably. It is a tale of perception and weakness, love and obsession, power and failure. And it definitely leans to the dark side of life. The plot construction was quite good, but definitely dense and slow to build. Tate Taylor’s (The Help) direction and sense of tension, however, lift it from under its own dark weight. We are drawn into the tale, pulling at the threads, like Rachel, to find the truth, or what we think is truth.
The other two parts of the female trinity supporting this tale are Haley Bennet (The Magnificent Seven) and Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins). Each brings multiple facets, though neither really gets to draw a complete character, but that is the intended nature of the story. We are only ever going to get to know so much and no more.
There is a male triumvirate as well in this movie. Justin Theroux (The Leftovers), Luke Evans (High-Rise), and Edgar Ramírez (Joy) provide catalysts, impetus, and different faces of male interaction with their respective female counterparts.
Three other notable performances were from Laura Prepon (The Kitchen), Lisa Kudrow (Neighbors 2), and Allison Janney (Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children), who fill in some important cracks and questions. This final grouping also structurally completes the 3 groups of three in the plot, which is an interesting bit of construction if you care about such things.
You’re not going to walk away from this story feeling good, so give up all hope on that. Any joy or positive aspects in this movie are implied rather than realized. But you will be impressed with Blunt and the shifting of the tale.