Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train aims high, but ultimately falls flat, says

Image: Universal Studios

Director: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emily Blunt, Hayley Bennett, Justin Theroux
Length: 1hr 52m
Rating: 15

A film based on such a reputable book, The Girl on the Train was always going to struggle to live up to the desires and expectations of the fans of Paula Hawkins’ best selling novel. Nevertheless a film should be looked at as an individual format, and not always compared to the story on which it was based. However, the American take on the London based book changes the game from the very beginning. It’s difficult to ignore the initially obvious glamour that comes from the American adaption. British book readers in the audience will have related to the British trains and the sluggish commute which has now been moved across the pond. Regardless, Emily Blunt retains her British accent, which largely works in her favour, allowing her to come across as far more vulnerable and alone during the scary journey on which she travels.

The Girl on the Train has a promising storyline, creating a intricate web of characters in what becomes a missing person’s investigation. Initially the film sets the scene, laying out backstories and identifying key characters, but this can come across as a bit tedious, and a little predictable. A psychological thriller should have tension, excitement, and drama, which this picture is distinctly lacking. Many of the scenes are particularly slow and can be deemed useless in contributing to the overall impression of the film, meaning a film of 2 hours could have reached the same impact in half the time. As the rather drawn out storyline draws to a close the film has a, for want of a better word, trainwreck of an ending. It doesn’t quite culminate in an abundance of suspense the audience would hope for.

Blunt is the sole strength of the film as the protagonist Rachel Watson, a recent divorcee who’s since turned to alcohol and obsessing over her ex-husband’s new life. In and amongst her exhaustingly melodramatic surroundings, she more than holds it together as an actress while her character Rachel completely falls apart. She gives a raw and honest portrayal, while still looking remarkably flawless throughout. Unfortunately her impeccable performance isn’t quite enough to save the show, and if anything highlights how poorly put together the rest of the film is. Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow also give solid performances, but as more minor characters. Many of the others are rather shallow and one dimensional, being depicted as simply ‘bad’ or ‘good’ with little depth to them.

Perhaps there was too much hype surrounding the book’s adaption, and the film was always going to be a disappointment. The Girl on the Train isn’t groundbreaking and unfortunately, to follow up a bestseller novel, it needed to be. The film is still an enjoyable watch, but you just aren’t left wanting more.

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