The recent box office hit based on Paula Hawkins’ bestseller novel of the same name, “The Girl on the Train,” dismayed many fans with the changes made in its transition to the big screen.
From minor changes, such the change in setting from London to New York, to the addition of characters, viewers who have read the book may find themselves underwhelmed by the movie. However, for those watching the story unfold for the first time, there is plenty to offer as a generic mystery thriller.
Rachel (Emily Blunt), an alcoholic reeling from her recent divorce from Tom (Justin Theroux), spent her days traveling on the picturesque Hudson Line in and out of New York City. During the journey, Rachel tried to avoid looking at her old home where Tom and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the woman Tom cheated on Rachel with, are now raising a daughter.
To escape this sight, Rachel fixated on the couple down the road, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans), obsessing over what she imagined to be their glamourous love life.
However, after she saw Megan kiss another man, Rachel became disillusioned. A drunk Rachel, in a fit of anger, confronted Megan and woke up the next morning with no memory of the events that occurred. When she heard Megan went missing, Rachel involved herself in the case to try and figure out what happened.
Switching between the perspectives of each woman before and after Megan’s disappearance, the audience was left to figure out who they should root for: the former mistress Anna, the alcoholic Rachel, or the girl with the hidden past, Megan.
Emily Blunt’s superb acting shone through in her portrayal of a woman desperate to remember what happened that night. Her acting compensated for some of the unsatisfactory parts of the film, such as scenes with Rachel’s roommate Cathy (Laura Prepon) that did not quite make sense, nor did they deliver much impact without the book’s context. Prepon’s dramatical skills sadly lacked in this context.
The bumbling antics of the police investigation, led by Detective Riley (Allison Janney), who seemed fixated on blaming Rachel, were also dissatisfying.
In addition, clocking in at 112 minutes, the film may leave viewers with the feeling that Director Tate Taylor tried to prolong the suspense unnecessarily. This impression emerged throughout the film, an example being scenes of Rachel drinking on the train or blacking out being shown repeatedly.
By halfway, the fact she is an alcoholic did not seem to matter to the story anymore—it was simply dull and tiresome. Though Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s cinematography and Danny Elfman’s score created a beautiful backdrop to the story, one cannot help getting annoyed while anticipating the final reveal.
The gratuitous nudity and addition of unnecessarily frequent sex scenes did not help the restless feeling, but rather weaken the film’s premise of strong women. After all the anticipation, the film ended anticlimactically, leaving the audience wanting a bit more.