THE GIRL ON A TRAIN Reviewed
Directed by Tate Taylor
Written by Erin Cressida Wilson, based on the novel by Paula Hawkins
Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Alison Janney
Because I went into the theater with such low expectations, my initial reaction to THE GIRL ON A TRAIN was it was better than the reviews. But in the five days since then, it’s become apparent that whatever suspense, characterization, and craft found in the book (I didn’t read it) was absent in the film. When I tried to describe its strengths to some friends who were fans of the book, I came up short.
In THE GIRL ON A TRAIN, we spend a lot of time watching Rachel (Blunt) ride on the train, drink, skulk around, and try to suss out her part in the death of another woman. But none of this really interests us much. Perhaps the structure of the novel did not provide an easy segue to a screenplay. Certainly getting inside a character’s head is difficult even on the page. But in a movie, voiceovers quickly become tiresome. And if the female characters are not as interesting as they should be, the men are even less so. And the casting certainly did Ms. Hawkins’ book no favors aside from Blunt.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN makes recent adaptations like GONE GIRL, GONE BABY GONE and THE DROP look like high art indeed. Perhaps the rush to get it onto the screen was partly at fault. If I used one word to describe it, that word would be flat. And I am assured by its readers, that this is certainly not the case with the novel.