Paula Hawkins’ book The Girl On The Train was a big hit. When a friend of mine wanted to go see a movie we decided on this one. She has not read the book, but I have.
I’ll try to put minimal spoilers in this review for those who have not read the book nor seen the film.
Short version: If you liked the book you’ll probably like the film, as it stays pretty faithful to what’s in there. If you didn’t read or didn’t like the book, you may ask yourself what all the fuss was about.
The plot revolves around three women and two men. Rachel (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic whose marriage dissolved over her inability to get out from under her addiction, and her husband Tom’s affair with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Anna is now Tom’s wife and mother to their baby daughter. Anna and Tom (Justin Theroux) live in the same house he and Rachel did, which is a few doors down the street from Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). Scott and Megan (outwardly, at least) have a happy marriage.
Rachel spies on both couples while taking the train to and from New York in the morning and evening as the tracks run right behind her old street. Her drinking having cost her her job, she’s still commuting to the city so as to hide her unemployment status from her roommate. From the train she spies on Anna and Tom, whose story she knows, and projects onto Scott and Megan her fantasy of a perfect marriage despite not knowing either party.
Then one day she sees Megan with another man, and is irrationally shaken when she realizes the idyllic marriage she sees from the train may not be so idyllic after all. When Megan goes missing the mystery of what happened to her begins, and Rachel gets involved, believing what she knows about Megan and the other man she saw her with could help Scott and the police find her. The problem is that Rachel is so frequently drunk that she blacks out and her memory is very spotty. She’s often unable to determine what is the distortion from an alcohol binge and what’s real.
That’s about as much as I can say without giving the rest of the story away. I will say that as a mystery it’s not very good story. There are a couple of red herrings thrown in, but they’re less mysterious here in the film than they were in the book, and so they’re less effective. The audience has no real way to figure out who the culprit is until toward the very end, and it just feels a little bit disappointing that it wasn’t a more clever solution.
A couple of things that are jarring — the location is inexplicably changed from London to New York. Some of the actors (Luke Evans for one) do American accents, but Emily Blunt maintains her English accent. Megan’s psychiatrist, Kamal Abdic, who is evidently supposed to be Middle Eastern, is played by Edgar Ramirez, and I could swear that at one point he’s speaking Spanish to Rachel. I’d have to see it again to be sure, but that makes no sense whatsoever.
If you’ve read the book and loved it, you will probably love the movie. If, like me, you’re in the “meh” category on the book, seeing the film won’t change your mind, but if you have a couple of extra hours and are looking for an excuse not to clean, go only if it’s at a matinee price. Otherwise, I’d advise seeing Sully instead, or better yet, rent the much, much better Gone Girl.
Below is a trailer. One warning: if you’re not a fan of sex scenes or nudity, this movie may not be for you.