Highly anticipated film adaptation proves to be disappointing
THE SANTA CLARA
October 13, 2016
With the fall season setting in, the old rickety Hollywood machine begins to slowly churn out movies worthy of Oscar consideration. “The Girl on the Train” is not one of those films.
Directed by Tate Taylor (“The Help”), “The Girl on the Train” is based on the 2015 New York Times bestseller novel of the same name. The story revolves around Rachel, an alcoholic divorcee who rides the train everyday into the city (the novel places the story in the United Kingdom; the film moves it to New York).
Passing by her favorite suburban house, each day, Rachel obsessively imagines the cozy life of the beautiful couple inside. Each day is the same, until suddenly, she spies something from the train that doesn’t fit into her perfect narrative.
Upset from this event, Rachel blacks out that night from drinking. She wakes up the next morning covered in blood and bruises. And then she learns that the woman of the couple she had idealized is missing. Could Rachel be to blame?
Immediately after the book’s and now the film’s release, parallels have been drawn between “The Girl on the Train” and the novel and film “Gone Girl.” Both stories involve psychological themes and unreliable narrators. And—spoiler alert— they each have big plot twists. Both even have the word “Girl” in their titles. But the comparison ends there for the film adaptation of “The Girl on the Train.”
While “Gone Girl” threw all of its weight in the first half of the film to paint Nick Dunne as the bad guy, in “The Girl on the Train,” viewers don’t fear or even hate Rachel. They feel bad for her. She looks helpless and sad. Yeah, she has some issues, but gruesome killer? Nah. As a result, by the time the plot twists, viewers, while they may not predict the exact reveal, certainly aren’t that shocked.
To make matters worse, confusing time jumps muddle the plot. With the film hopping from one month ago to six months ago to 14 days ago to two years ago back to six months ago, I felt I needed a notebook to help keep track of what exactly was happening.
Somehow, in spite of the odds, namely the stilted dialogue, the cast delivers relatively convincing portrayals.
Without a doubt, the most praise should go to lead actress Emily Blunt, who is nearly unrecognizable as the obsessive drunkard Rachel. But as so many movies have proven before, a stellar cast can’t save a lackluster plot.
While “The Girl on the Train” isn’t a completely terrible film—scenes toward the end still manage to reel viewers in with suspense and creepiness—it isn’t anything more than a future Netflix snoozer.
Choosing to skim over the surface rather than delve into its psychological depths, “The Girl on the Train” fails to bring any real sparks to its source material.
Contact Maura Turcotte at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.