Tate Taylor / Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans / Thriller / 2016 / 15 / 112mins
The Hangover meets Gone Girl in this adaptation of the crime caper that took the book world by storm.
Everything Rachel knew about her life – her ex, the wonderful couple she stalks from her comfy seat on the train – turns out to be a ginormous lie in an alcohol-infused Matrix moment thanks to one key character. As a major twist, we’re approaching M Night Shyamalan territory here.
The usual furore has angered book club luvvies: the Americanisation of the setting (ie. the ol’ switcheroo with Euston London Midland line for generic New York suburb #1) and, by natural consequence, the characters. I am sure it’s a struggle to comprehend a far off distant land beyond an ocean, bless those Americans. Another paper to screen mishap is central character Rachel is explicitly overweight and dishevelled. Emily Blunt is not (unless you’re working at a Paris fashion show, in which case she’s not bulimic enough). But hey, I guess I’m not a Hollywood casting director for a reason.
The plot is launched after Rachel conveniently witnesses the female half of the ‘perfect’ couple having an affair. This leads to some rash, and extremely drunk, decisions (at that stage where she would willingly take on a bear, I imagine) and Rachel blacks out, waking up covered in blood to the news that her idol is dead.
It might be obvious, but Girl on the Train lies deep within the magical world of ‘fuck me what a coincidence’. Vital plot points are staged beautifully from a parked train; there’s a web of character relationships to rival a royal family. Movie morals also continue to preach eternal damnation to sluts everywhere as Megan’s promiscuity leads to her downfall.
Blunt, although horribly cast physically, delights with a turn as a weak and deluded drunk. Unreliable narration at it’s finest – F Scott Fitzgerald would be pleased.
Tate Taylor is a very straightforward director. He simply keeps a story afloat and never disturbs that status quo with cinematic flair. Perhaps greater use of distractive techniques that play on the drunk narrator would have been worthwhile over the bland flashbacks. There’s no Hitchcockian work at play and too few red herrings to keep you interested.
If I’m being honest, it seems that Paula Hawkins’s novel is my prime suspect. The twist is expected and only makes use of unexpected violence. Taylor can only do so much as director. With The Help he had a great novel and thus made a great film. Alas, The Girl on the Train always had a hill to climb, but Taylor went out of his way to alter the novel. Bad move.
Bland and, for wont of a better word, unsurprising. Emily Blunt, by far the highlight of the film, helps avoid a trainwreck. Fans will see little point, but it makes for a comfortable watch for those unawares.
Film as a Film – 2 / Target Audience – 2 / General Audience – 3
The Girl on the Train is in cinemas now
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The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Universal Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.