The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson's life post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train in to work in New York, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and child. As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses down -- Megan and Scott Hipwell. She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. She has only a feeling: something bad happened. Then come the TV reports: Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes invested in the case and trying to find out what happened to Megan, where she is, and what exactly she herself was up to that same night Megan went missing.
The thrilling page-turner of 2015 becomes one of the highly anticipated films of 2016, but is it on track to live up to the hype?
The actual girl on the train is it-girl Emily Blunt, one of my favourite actors who always choose challenging and juicy roles, from kick-ass action in Edge of Tomorrow to intense dramas like the brilliant Sicario. And being British for the London-set novel I thought the casting agents had nailed it. But the story has been transplanted to New York, and not exactly for the better. Though Blunt still does a stellar job, playing the run-down, alcoholic compulsive liar with enough skill to actually make us sympathetic towards her.
Equally impressive is star-on-the-rise Haley Bennett. My new crush - who can also be seen in The Magnificent Seven and Warren Beatty’s upcoming Rules Don’t Apply -plays the seductive Megan with aplomb and gives Blunt a run for her money. Rebecca Ferguson (breakout star of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) does her best with what she’s given, but of all things The West Wing legend Allison Janney was a bit heavy handed as the detective investigating the case. The boys in The Girl on the Train are all solid but nothing spectacular.
Hype wise fans of the book need to adjust their expectations, I’ve just read it recently and while the spine of the book is the similar a lot has been tweaked or dispatched in it’s Atlantic crossing. I can understand the producers needing to change things to keep it interesting, but having these people live in mansions set back from the train tracks, rather than the inner-city dwellings of the book, makes it a lot less relatable. Plus the fact Rachel is suddenly a talented artist (in her notebook now anyway) is just a weird alteration.
Not to say it’s an effective thriller in it’s own right. Director Tate Taylor is better known for dramas such The Help and James Brown-biopic Get on Up, taking his first stab at a thriller he does a commendable job. A unique filming style in tense scenes does well to build foreboding dread but at times it did feel like a slow moving train.
While fans of the book might get derailed, it’s worth getting onboard this tense thriller for Emily Blunt’s standout performance.
Releases: 6th October 2016
Rating: R16 – contains violence, offensive language, sex scenes and content that may disturb
Duration: 112 minutes
Starring: Haley Bennett, Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux
Director: Tate Taylor (Films)
Kate Mara was attached to the role of Megan, but dropped out. Haley Bennett ended up replacing her.
Jared Leto was considered for the role of Scott, but he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Luke Evans replaced him.
Margot Robbie was considered for the role of Megan.
Chris Evans was attached to play Tom, but scheduling conflicts with Marc Webb's Gifted 2016/II forced him to drop out. He was soon replaced by Justin Theroux.
The novel debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list and remained in the top position for 15 weeks, 13 of them being consecutive. The book has sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. alone, as of July 2015.
The book that this film is based on is actually set in England, and Rachel gets the train into London. For the movie, the location was changed to New York.
Reunites director Tate Taylor with actress Allison Janney. They previously worked together on The Help (2011).