The Girl on the Train

I felt such an affinity for Rachel, the main character in The Girl on a Train, that it was easy for me to love Paula Hawkins’ novel. Partly, it’s because I’ve woken up with a hangover more times than I’d care to admit with an instinct to immediately check my email, text, and call history to see if I need to apologizing to anyone. But, just as important, I love people watching and especially enjoy speculating about the lives of strangers.

So Rachel (played in the film by Emily Blunt) wakes up from a night of drinking to find that her favourite stranger to watch (Haley Bennett) has gone missing and she may have seen something that could help find her. If only she can remember what it is. As the story unfolds, her behavior is frequently frustrating and not always easy to empathize with but I’d be lying if I said that she didn’t feel completely real to me. A great protagonist is really all you need to make even the simplest murder mystery seem gripping and, told from Rachel’s point of view, I found this one nearly impossible to put down.

The best film adaptations are able to identify what worked best from their source material and build a story around those elements that suits the medium. Because the film version of The Girl on the Train is a shitty adaptation, director Tate Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson try to pack in as many of the events of the book as possible without seeming to give any thought to how well the structure would play on screen. Neither seem interested in Rachel’s state of mind.

These may seem like the typical “the book was better” complaints but I can’t imagine the movie would impress anyone who hasn’t read the book either. Considering the popularity of the novel, the roll that Emily Blunt has been on lately, and the fact that just two movies ago Tate Taylor directed a Best Picture nominee (The Help), The Girl on the Train feels surprisingly TV-movieish. For a book that was marketed as an edge-of-your-seat thriller, its film is curiously boring, talky, and whiny.

The good news, as you may have heard, is that Blunt is terrific. She makes Rachel a lot easier to sympathize with even when her actions risk making her unlikeable. She plays the various levels of drunkenness quite well. But her efforts are wasted in a boring, lazily structured movie.

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “The Girl on the Train

    1. Matt Post author

      I was very impressed with her performance at the time and then I read that the author’s first choice was Michelle Williams and now I’m like “That would have been AMAZING”.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  1. Sukanya

    I agree – what a waste of a good story, I saw it yesterday and reviewed it too. But you know even the book wasn’t as great as people were making out to be I thought. Anyways, a wasted opportunity with the film.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      I’ll have to check oit the book. I don’t think I’d day the book was great but I do think it’s a good story well-told with a unique main character. I loved getting a brutally honest look at her daily life. I thought that was really missing from the movie

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  2. Jean Reinhardt

    That’s disappointing to hear about the movie adaptation. I loved the book and had high hopes for the film version. Oh well, I’ll wait till it’s shown on tv, instead of paying into a cinema. Thanks for the review, it saved me a bit of money, 🙂

    Like

    Reply
  3. J.

    I was quite interested in this, but I might leave it. But the. Ok is recommended, eh? I don’t read much fiction at all, but I might keep an eye out for it.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Jordan Dodd

    I just saw this. Excellent review. I was worried that I was the only person who liked this film, but I’m not! It seems we liked all the same things about this. Not brilliant but def worth a watch

    Like

    Reply
  5. fifi + hop

    I agree – I thought Emily Blunt was terrific. Justin Thoreaux too. I actually thought all around it was cast well. I’m still not sure what I thought of the movie but glad the acting turned out well.

    Like

    Reply
  6. Jay

    I didn’t really like the book so I guess this one’s not for me. The book felt very knock-off Gone Girl, and as you know, I didn’t even like Gone Girl, but at least its unreliable narrator gimmick was a little less annoying.

    In other Emily Blunt news: I just found her in Charlie Wilson’s War!

    Like

    Reply
  7. StephLove

    I heard two people at the next table at a restaurant discussing this movie yesterday. One had read the book and the other hadn’t. The one who read it said she didn’t think she would have gotten parts of it if she hadn’t read the book, and she said, “I can see why you wouldn’t like it,” to the non-reader, but she did like it. So I guess I’ll read the book first if I go see it. Or maybe just only read the book.

    Like

    Reply
  8. Pingback: SAG Awards | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s