By Hannah Craven
The Girl on the Train
The acclaimed Novel which shocked the world was published in January 2015. It was labelled the best thriller of our time. In 2014, Dreamworks Pictures acquired the film rights for this book. Before the film was even released, the fans of the original book complained about the movie adaptation. The book is set in London but the Hollywood equivalent is set in New York. Alongside this Emily Blunt was criticised for being too beautiful for the role, when the character is described in the book as being plain and overweight. But in my opinion Emily Blunt is the saviour to a thriller that tried it’s best to be the new Gone Girl. I was one of the people who read the book prior to seeing the film, and the film didn’t live up to my expectations. Unfortunately I knew the storyline well from reading the book recently, so the twists didn’t shock me. Audiences who haven’t read the book will be on the edge of their seats. So my opinion will be different to theirs.
Emily Blunt plays Rachel, who is the 30-something year old who can’t get over her divorce from her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux). Tom is now married to Anne (Rebecca Ferguson). Every day on the commute to work on the train, Rachel looks at her old house out of the window. She also notices a “perfect” couple who she can’t help but obsess over. Rachel is an alcoholic who drinks to help her get through her depression. One day the woman, Megan, from the perfect couple goes missing and Rachel is in the frame because she was spotted in the area that evening staggering around.
The film can be quite confusing, as director Tate Taylor, who is famous for directing the Academy Award Winning “The Help”, uses constant flash backs and jump forwards into the story’s narrative, as well as focusing on the story told by the three women. Megan, Anna and Rachel. The three main characters are very strong feminist examples, who are all living lies throughout the narrative. They are more similar to each other than they think they are.
The Quote by Rachel in the film is very significant in the narrative “I’m not the girl I used to be.” The camera focuses on the landscape of the view outside the train window showing Rachel’s old life and what it has become. Emily Blunt is terrific as Rachel; her ability to be able to play an alcoholic, who has a blackout the night Megan has gone missing, which haunts her is outstanding in this role. The audience sympathise with her character as she has gone off the rails and is self- destructive. She is so involved in finding out about what happened to Megan that she lets it run her life. Emily Blunt mesmerises the audience as we find out more about her compelling character and why she is the way that she is. Her performance saves this film from being a stereotypical thriller that has tried to be the new Gone Girl. She was the perfect actor to play the role and the film wouldn’t be the same without her. Blunt has shown the world before that she is perfect in any genre, and the use of her British accent makes her feel even more of an odd one out in this strange location.
As a reader of the book, I personally feel that the screenplay written by Erin Cressida Wilson misses out key scenes and information from the novel which would have worked perfectly in the film. I feel that if you haven’t read the book, the twists are more shocking, but reading the book first does ruin the surprise. This is one of the films where you would be better reading the book or watching the film but not doing both.
Seeing the world through Rachel’s eyes gives the audience a hangover torturous view. The Cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen is exquisite. Frequently when Rachel is gazing out of the train window, her reflection is shown in the glass as the world speedily disappears from the train. But when she notices her old neighbourhood, there is a contrast as time seems to have stopped. You can feel Rachel’s pain as she notices her ex-husband’s new wife, and how her life seems a shambles compared to Anna’s life.
The supporting cast are excellent, including Luke Evans as the aggressive Scott. Haley Bennett also shines as Megan. But it is Emily Blunt in my opinion who steals the show.
Overall, this picture has a similar feeling as Fatal Attraction as Rachel can’t recall any of her memories the night Megan goes missing. The audience goes on a journey to help Rachel recover her memories as well as feeling just as lost as her. Through the eyes of an alcoholic, who just wants her perfect life back, the audience are hooked throughout, feeling her pain. My only criticisms are that the flashing forward and back is very confusing, and the film isn’t as detailed as the novel. I also feel it is trying too hard to be a new Gone Girl. If it wasn’t for Emily Blunt’s performance I would have been disappointed with the film overall. I personally feel The Girl on The Train would have been better set in London but the director gave her best with the New York settings, and made the film quite enjoyable and very shocking.