Film review: The Girl on the Train

Liam Bodle
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Hollywood, there are a magnitude of novels that have been turned into films that work. Most notable The Godfather (1972), American Psycho (2000) and Silence of the Lambs (1991) to name a few. This time it doesn’t. Hollywood has churned out yet another adaptation (this time The Girl on the Train) that falls short which, despite trying, could not duplicate the hype that audiences have generated.

With an estimated 11 million novels sold worldwide and after the success of the 2014 adaptation Gone Girl that grossed over $369 million worldwide, it was inevitable that Hollywood would adapt The Girl on the Train which was hyped as the next Gone Girl. Throwing a $50 million budget and Oscar Nominated actress Emily Blunt, best known for her role as Emily in the award winning 2006 adaptation The Devil Wears Prada, the film ticks a lot of boxes before action on the train is even called.

The film sets the scene perfectly: suburban middle-class New York by the Hudson River and a train that hold the narrative together. Rachel (Emily Blunt), a broken desperate woman who rides the train each day and whilst slurping away on vodka, fantasies about the lives of the people she sees on one street she passes each day. We quickly discover however, that Rachel herself used to live on this street with ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and all is not what it seems as the reality overpowers the fantasy.

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Blunt  plays Rachel wonderfully convincing as a paranoid drunk who has lost everything, yet seems to entwine herself into several people’s lives which brings about the shocking revelations and truths of the people she inflicts herself on.

Supporting Blunt is Haley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson who play Megan and Anna respectively, who each fall into endless spiral of stereotypes that make it frustrating to care about them, their past, present and future. When Megan goes missing and fingers start to point, you find yourself wanting to get back on the train and continue the deluded but fantastic fantasies Rachel has.

At this point you find yourself looking for the exit but then something happens: a scene in the film when a random character Martha (Lisa Kudrow) is on the train one evening. Rachel coincidently believes she knows her and starts having recalled memories. What transpires in this scene is a tasteless few minutes of dialogue between the two women that spoils the entire film and renders the rest of the film pointless.

This scene is not present in the book and you can tell it serves a purpose to start the final act by actually gives away the twist that is about to unravel, that is now predictable. It leaves the viewer feeling deflated after waiting for so long. However, all the viewer can do is shake their heads at how tasteless the events are being presented.

It’s a shame that The Girl on the Train just isn’t very enjoyable. We do see Scott (Luke Evans) exploited throughout the film with barely any clothing on (not complaining, just stating the facts). This alone cannot save the film as it deludes its own self-rightiousness to succeed. I, however, applaud Emily Blunt who outstandingly pulls off her depiction of Rachel. The other cast member simply doesn’t have the script or the direction it would seem to give their characters any clout in the what should have been a psychological thriller.

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Score: 2/5

About Liam Bodle

Film and Media graduate from Manchester, I now use my time writing about all things film, music and games but also have a passion for being a voice for the LGBT+ community.