Based on the Paula Hawkins best selling novel of the same name, Emily Blunt stars as a Rachel, a divorced alcoholic who takes an interest in this seemingly perfect couple who live in a house which Rachel’s commutator train passes everyday. The couple’s tranquility is broken when Rachel spots Megan (Haley Bennett) kissing another guy. Shortly after this, Megan vanishes, and in the morning following Megan’s disappearance Rachel wakes up with a bad gash on her head. blood on her hands and without any memory of the night before. How involved was Rachel in Megan’s disappearance?
Like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the Train was a seemingly unfilmable book that shortly got a film adaption a few years after the hit book was released. Gone Girl was handled by the skilled David Fincher whilst The Girl on the Train was directed by Tate Taylor, the man who adapted Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Tate Taylor does a reasonable job, but he doesn’t handle the multiple narrative chains successfully. The narrative underwent several changes that would put off those who read the novel (as I did myself), such as relocating the setting to New York instead of London, but if it was set in England, trains would either be delayed or late enough for Rachel to miss her brief snapshot of the lives of that perfect couple.
Unreliable train services aside, Emily Blunt is talented enough to cast aside any misgivings about her being too pretty to play Rachel, a woman who, as the book describes as having let herself go since her divorce. Looking tired and a little worse for wear, Blunt does a superb job at playing a flawed and troubled heroine with a complex relationship with alcohol which caused her to lose her job and opens rifts between her and her friends. Emily Blunt steals the film from her co-stars, with a well cast Haley Bennett also impressive in her role. In contrast Luke Evan’s Scott Hipwell is a little starved of screen time and development.
The novel does a better job at creating sympathy for Rachel despite her alcohol induced, irrational behavior, and whilst the film does a good, refreshing job at showing a strong, but flawed character, Rachel’s drinking problem does become less of a factor as the film goes on. Perhaps she is drinking less, but the film never shows this change. The new setting, as beautiful the scenery is, doesn’t add to a story lacking in tension.