The Girl on the Train review

Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train
Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train

The Paula Hawkins bestseller hits the big screen, in the hands of the man who directed another bestseller adaptation, The Help.

Tate Taylor relocates the Hawkins tale from London to upstate New York, the grungy murkiness of London replaced by a far more moneyed and entitled nouveau riche aesthetic. The story is unfortunately the lesser for it. 

Like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train is told by the protagonists in a compellingly disconnected way, which leaves the field wide open for a dark voyeuristic whodunit story like this one, the curtains drawn across the reader's eyes.

Having a flawed, broken, alcoholic anti-heroine as the chief storyteller only adds to the mystery.

Who is telling the truth, who is only telling us some of the truth, who can only remember some of the truth, and who is lying through their teeth? In all cases much is revealed while at the same time revealing nothing, and in the case of The Girl on the Train, the climax is explosive.

Choosing to tell this story in a far more linear way for the big screen feels like an easy out and ultimately robbed the story of the desperation and peril which sold the book.

But I digress, let's talk about the film - this is a film review after all. 

Emily Blunt takes the lead here and does her usual stellar job in the role of Rachel, the titular girl on the train, who during her daily commute fashions fictional lives around the people she sees in their backyards as her train chugs past each day.

But she knows more about these people then she initially lets on to us, and when a woman disappears, Rachel's role in her disappearance may be far less fictional. 

The thing is, not even Rachel herself knows, she is blind drunk most days. She is border-line stalking her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife and child, and she has lost her job and any vestige of self-worth.

The two women in Rachel's life are Megan and Anna. Megan lives two doors down from Anna, and works as her part-time nanny. Anna is Tom's new wife. When Megan disappears, the plot thickens from there.

These three women form the backbone of the story and also the film, due in the main to the strong performances of these three fine actresses - particularly Blunt and Bennett.

Of course there is always the argument that any sense of mystery is lost on those who already know the story and the outcome. But if that was a universal truth then adaptations would simply cease to exist.

There is just that imperative that the story is translated to the screen in a way which adds to the telling, augments the familiarity, and surprises us still.

The Girl on the Train is not one of those films.

So yes, I'm disappointed, the overall experience almost pedestrian, and this story is far, far from pedestrian.

There will be an extra layer of worth for those unfamiliar with the book, and far more potential for a more satisfying watch.

But for me, it just lacked a jagged edge, bereft of the nastiness it really needed. 

Three stars.

     The Girl on the Train:: Director: Tate Taylor:: Starring: Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans and Justin Theroux:: Rating: R16 - Violence, offensive language, sex scenes and content that may disturb:: Running Time: 112 minutes:: Release Date: October 6, 2016