By Brad Haynes
The Girl On The Train
★★ out of ★★★★
Fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the wildly popular novel that featured unreliable narration and a plot so full of twists and turns that it almost needed a road map, ate up Brit novelist Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train when it was released over three years later. But unlike the Gone Girl filmization, which was masterfully directed by David Fincher, Hawkins’ nail-biter fell into the hands of director Tate (The Help) Taylor, where its setting was moved from England to the States and its sense of shocking thrills were almost completely lost in a paint-by-number adaptation.
Lost in alcohol and seemingly locked on a Long Island rail for much of the day, Rachel (Emily Blunt) has fallen in love with a sexy young couple she sees on her daily commute, a couple who live just a few houses down from where she herself used to live. You see, Rachel was discarded by her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), who left her (but somehow kept the house) for the couple’s realtor Anna (Rebecca Ferguson).
And that couple that Rachel has fallen in love with? Well that’s Megan and Scott Hipwell. And they’re not nearly as joyously happy as Rachel thinks they are. You see, Megan (Haley Bennett, who is so much of a dead ringer for Jennifer Lawrence, it makes you think they wanted Lawrence and just couldn’t get her) reveals all of her many complications to her therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez), who she also happens to be falling for. And Scott (Luke Evans), her possibly abusive, yet incredibly sexy, husband desperately wants a baby that she appears to be unable to give him. Instead, Megan begins the film working for Rachel’s ex and his wife as the nanny for THEIR baby.
And that is only one of the many unbelievable circumstances that come to the forefront in The Girl on the Train; circumstances which seem much easier to follow and fall for when reading a novel than when observing on film. A similar fate befell 2014’s Before I Go to Sleep, based on the novel by S. J. Watson and directed by Rowan Joffé. Like Blunt, star Nicole Kidman did a fine job, but on screen the psychological thriller just didn’t seem to work.
The Girl on the Train is fraught with twists and turns, but the final “twist” may just be a little more than you’re willing to take. The audience at the screening I attended, which should have been applauding the bloody conclusion, instead were laughing. Maybe it was nervous laughter at a very uncomfortable finale, but whatever it was, it was a clear indication that the film did not succeed the way it intended.
Fans of the book will be disappointed, those coming in fresh may be mildly entertained, but The Girl on the Train never quite hits the rails the way it should.
The Good: Most of the acting is commendable, especially that of Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Luke Evans, who earns sex symbol status with this film.
The Bad: In keeping faithful with some elements of the novel, director Tate Taylor puts forth many scenes that simply don’t work, particularly the laughter inducing literal “twist” ending.
Final Word: If you’re a fan of the novel you can’t help but wanting to see what made it to the big screen, just be prepared to be somewhat disappointed.
Starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans. Directed by Tate Taylor.
Running Time: 112 minutes
Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity.