Love and betrayal, alcoholism and domestic violence, jealousy, pregnancy, children, servants – all this heap of problems that it is so pleasant to tell “horror stories” about to friends in the evenings over a glass of red wine – became the basis for a detective that can be safely called as female, and psychological. In a sense, it is a “family” detective story, because it focuses on two families, each with its own secrets.
The location cannot be changed
The train is a symbol of movement and alienation, fellow travelers are “life companions”, the railway is a visible embodiment of the “life path”. The roar and clang of electric trains accompanies the action of the film. The heroine of the film, Rachel, became an outcast, lost her husband, home and job, looks at the world from the train window.
She is no longer a “character”, she is a passive observer, who only has to admire someone else’s happiness through thick glass. Her fantasies endow the strangers, whose lives she so eagerly follows, with uncharacteristic characters.
The carriage window distorts reality. Rachel only sees what she thinks and misses the obvious. Immersed in the abyss of hatred and self-pity, she thinks someone’s relationship is perfect. The habit of looking after her former home, ex-husband and his family is more and more poisonous to her wounds, but she is unable to stop this painful addiction.
A couple living in a house next door seems to her an example of love, tenderness and devotion. To break the web of lies that Rachel voluntarily plunged into, she will have to get off the train and face reality.
Wine and Wine
The problem of female alcoholism is not often raised in the cinema, but meanwhile it is crushing and serious. Society is condescending to a man who drinks, but a woman who drinks causes only disgust and condemnation. Nobody will understand the reasons. Rachel was lucky that a close friend did not turn away from her, regretted and sheltered her – not everyone is so lucky.
The addiction to alcohol exacerbated the heroine’s troubles. And the point is not that she became unpleasant to her husband. Alcoholism gave “cards in hand” to the heartless manipulator, who did everything to destroy the young woman morally and almost destroyed her physically.
In fact, all of Rachel’s fault was her gullibility – she fell in love with the wrong person, trusted the wrong one. If she could keep a sober view of the world, she would understand this much faster.
Rachel feels guilty about something she has never done. She is unhappy and dependent. She is not able to adequately perceive reality – it is easier to get drunk and get away from problems.
Although the film is full of clichés traditional for “ladies’ romance” – husband, ex-wife, wife and mistress-nanny – the relationship between the characters is not at all trivial. Resentment and pain do not let go of the ex-wife; fear for his position torments the “happy chosen one”, the eccentric mistress is full of vengeful determination. In the center of this “tangle of snakes” is a pathological liar who enjoys commanding his women, playing on their weaknesses, feeling himself the ruler of the world.
The moment when this “master of the harem” loses control over events, reveals his evil and criminal nature. But he gave his victims such an illusion of love and protection that they continue to cling to it with their last strength – even in spite of the obvious.
This is the bitter meaning of the film: a loving woman is blind. She ignores the facts, acts contrary to common sense. She will defend the deceiver until her last breath, find excuses for him, blame herself – just not to look reality in the eye.
The loving couple that Rachel loved to watch over their lives is far from perfect. The husband is rude and jealous, the wife is selfish, a liar, a thrill-seeker. The heroine feels deceived – her fantasies have collapsed. She is surrounded by lies and falsehood, her self-loathing reaches the limit. But it is at the moment of the highest despair that an epiphany comes to her, and the woman has enough strength to save not only herself, but also the one she so fiercely hated – a happy rival.
The point is that ideals should not be created from scratch. Each has its own shortcomings, its own life, its own problems. Envy of someone else’s happiness is fruitless and destructive. It is worth soberly (in every sense of the word) to look at the world – and it becomes clear that it is foolish to idealize others and hate yourself.
The meaning of the ending of the film
Two women, overcoming mutual hatred and gaining dignity, brutally avenged their humiliation. They had to work together. Yes, a woman is weak and dependent, but do not underestimate her inner strength.
Rachel tries to quit drinking. Sitting near the fountain, she makes sketches of the sculpture: three women merged in a round dance, performing an intricate dance. In this sculpture, she sees the embodiment of what happened – the same “dance” she had to perform with her “friends in misfortune”. But now that their insidious “choreographer” has paid for their crimes, the two survivors have received a new chance and “inoculated” from male lies for the rest of their lives.