Many readers fell in love with Paula Hawkins’ mystery thriller The Girl on the Train, which presented a murder and also a trio of three complicated, problematic women main characters who served as unreliable narrators. Throughout the weaving of their stories, lies are built up and torn down. The novel did an excellent job building tension and making the reader question every character presented as a possible culprit.
The question is, did this tension translate to the film version directed by Tate Taylor? Is this one of the full movies coming out this Fall that’s worth checking out?
Emily Blunt Splendid Show Down
The titular character is Rachel, played by British actress Emily Blunt, an alcoholic divorcee who travels by train to and from the city on a daily basis, observing the suburban houses from the train window and daydreaming about their occupants while she sneaks shots of vodka from a flask. One couple that she observes draws her attention due to their seeming perfection: Megan and Scott. She fantasizes about their beautiful success story as a way of vicariously escaping the fact that she lost the good life she once had.
Megan, played by Haley Bennett, is a beautiful artsy blonde who once owned a gallery, who longs for an escape and is prone to lying. She loves her husband Scott, but her troublesome past leaves her wanting more. The third woman who composes this trio of female leads is Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the new wife of Rachel’s ex-husband and doting mother of their infant daughter. She moved into Rachel’s old house shortly after the divorce and lives happily, if a little restlessly, amongst furniture purchased by her husband’s ex-wife. Even without knowing more about the plot, you can see where some of the unease and tension might begin to come in.
Gradually, their connected lives grow even more entwined and the facades begin slipping away. When a murder occurs and Rachel believes she has some information regarding what happened – something she saw from the train – things get more complicated. She proceeds to attempt to solve some of the mystery on her, heavily inhibited by her alcoholism.
Movie Tale Based On A Book – The Girl on The Train
The excitement from the unraveling, multi-faceted narrative in the book doesn’t end up equaling suspense on the screen. The whodunit aspect of the plot is less surprising in the film and the characters seem to interact less, the story not as woven together as presented in the book. The three interesting and complicated women have been stripped down to just a few traits, and you come to know the men in the story even less.
Without the appropriate build up of tension, some of the more dramatic and thrilling scenes come off as a silly. This can’t be what director Tate Taylor had in mind. The poor execution leads the heavier themes of the story – domestic abuse, addiction, and the “gaslighting” of women – to get lost in the telling. Blunt tries hard to portray Rachel’s pitiable dysfunction, but the dialogue in the movie is not strong enough to allow her to fully achieve this. However, she is a talented actress and this comes across in the film.
When it comes to streaming movies that are worth watching, this film is still an amusing and interesting mystery thriller despite its flaws, so if that’s your type of movie, then you will likely still enjoy it to varying degrees. Considering the director and screenplay writer had a successful book to work from, it may make you wonder why they weren’t able to capture the same dramatic tension and depth of the book. Still, it will be entertaining to see if you can figure out who did it before the final reveal.