Another week and another adaptation is out in cinemas. With almost losing hope in movies based on books – The Girl on the Train, adapted from the famous “shocking” novel by Paula Hawkins, brings back a little hope. The movie stays mostly true to the book – changing only a few things but nothing too drastically. Although in Tate Taylor’s directed work we get a film that delivers intriguing characters and skilful performances, we also get a somewhat poorly executed film that tries to copy a different movie.
The story starts with Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt), an alcoholic who divorced her husband Tom (Justin Theroux) for cheating, taking the train to work in New York, and each day she passes by her old house where she used to live with him. Now Tom with his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) and child live in the house. While taking the train, she stops watching her ex-husband and starts to watch a couple who lives few houses down – Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans). One day, as the train passes, she sees something distressing that makes her angry and on that day Megan goes missing. The next day, she wakes up with a hangover and having various bruises, and no memory of what she did the night before. Feeling that something bad happened in the night that she can’t remember, Rachel starts to take matters into her own hands and starts investigating the disappearance of Megan. She gets entangled in the missing personas case that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.
Let’s start off with the highlight of the movie and its Emily Blunt’s acting – The Girl on the Train perfectly showcases how talented she can be (and is). While being on the screen, Blunt did everything to steal the show. She did a wonderful job in performing a character that is unbalanced, hateful and sometimes you just feel sorry for her – a performance that is fascinating to watch. The movie just would have been nothing if she didn’t play Rachel.
With bringing great performances from all the cast, especially Emily Blunt, the movie suffered really bad in other parts. Sometimes giving us funny moments when there shouldn’t be any, for example: when Rachel briefly abducts her ex-husbands child, later decides that it is a bad idea, gives the child back and runs off in the field – making me and other people giggle while she runs away. Serious scene, awful execution. But few times Tate Taylor demonstrated that he knows how to make a scene more psychologically effective, example – with Megan sitting on a sofa, occupying the right side of the screen, she sits there alone with the left side being empty and talking about her relationships – that shows that the character feels lonely and vulnerable being in relationship with Scott. For me this felt like a nice touch from the director to get us know better the character Megan – also her performance made the scene more believable.
Being a movie on its own, it felt like The Girl on the Train was trying to copy Gone Girl (directed by David Fincher). But what David Fincher did was a work of art, what Tate Taylor does is not the same. With bringing the tone and visuals of Gone Girl, the execution of this movie is not the best to say the least. We can see what kind of movies Tate Taylor has made in the past: Pretty Ugly People, The Help, and Get On Up and that’s all. He is a talented director, but does his filmography show that he is good for a movie that has a really different tone and theme? He should’ve kept with his drama genre and not go in the territory of mysteries/thrillers.
As you guessed it, this is the directors first thriller and you can see that the movie does so little to get us hooked right from the beginning. The tension moves bit by bit throughout the movie and you get most of the thrills in the third act. And when the third act comes – uuu weee…..it totally reminded me of the book. Not changing anything from the source material, the execution was brilliant. This proves that you don’t have to change the ending to make the movie look better – that is a reference to Tim Burton who messed up the ending of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
In conclusion: With not looking at the imperfections that Tate Taylor did with directing, The Girl on the Train is still a good adaptation that is worth seeing in theatres. If you don’t mind movie feeling a bit like a copy of Gone Girl – you will like it. If you haven’t read the book – the movie might be more enjoyable and the story might even surprise you with its plot twists. If you read the book – better skip it because nothing will shock you, maybe you could enjoy the performance of Emily Blunt.
Running time: 112 minutes; Production companies: DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Marc Platt Productions; Distributed by: Universal Pictures; Genre: Mistery, Thriller;
Directed by: Tate Taylor; Produced by: Marc Platt; Screenplay by: Erin Cressida Wilson; Based on: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Cinematography: Charlotte Bruus Christensen; Music: Danny Elfman; Edited by: Michael McCusker; Budget: $45 million;
Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, and many more.