Taylor turns best-seller into a trainwreck of a film

Marley Parish, Features editor

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Director Tate Taylor’s movie adaptation of “The Girl on the Train” is like a train wreck where audiences are uncomfortable but cannot bring themselves to look away from the mess of a film. The thriller was released in theatres on Friday, Oct. 7 where it made $24.7 million at the box office according to the Associated Press.

“The Girl on the Train” is jammed full with the mystery and drama of three different storylines that are all brought together by Emily Blunt’s character, Rachel Watson. Rachel is an alcoholic divorcée who spends her days riding the train to New York City and fantasizing about the people who now live in her former neighborhood as she passes by.

Justin Theroux plays Tom Watson, Rachel’s ex-husband, who lives in Rachel’s former home with his mistress, Anna, played by Rebecca Ferguson, and their baby. Tom and Anna are living the life that Rachel originally had planned for her and Tom.

As the train passes by each day, Rachel obsessively watches a woman, Megan, who she fantasizes about. Megan lives two houses down from Rachel’s old house, and she seems to be living the perfect life with her husband, Scott. Rachel has never spoken to Megan in person but still invents scenarios about who she is, what her name is and wishes that she too had her perceived perfect life.

One day, Rachel passes by and sees Megan embracing a man who Rachel does not recognize. She is filled with rage and frustration towards Megan. She believes that Megan is throwing away her perfect marriage and life by having an affair.

A drunken and angry Rachel gets off the train ready to confront Megan for ruining her life. While she is on her way to Megan’s house, she runs into her in a tunnel near her house. When Rachel wakes up the next morning, she is covered in blood and has bruises all over her body. The previous night is a blur. Later on, Rachel learns that Megan has disappeared and is eventually discovered dead in the woods.

“The Girl on the Train”  bounces between the perspectives of the similar-looking cast members. Rachel flashbacks to her marriage with Tom. After multiple failed attempts at conception, Rachel turns to alcohol to help numb the pain of not being able to have children as well as to cope with Tom’s affair.

Taylor includes scenes of Megan’s therapy sessions where she describes her traumatic youth. The young and depressed Megan runs off with her brother’s best friend where they live in a cabin hidden from the rest of the world. In her depressed state, she turns to her therapist for comfort and consolidation. It is later clear that the man Rachel sees Megan kissing is her therapist.

Anna’s portions of the film consist of her struggling to raise her daughter, Rachel often stumbling into her former home in drunken stupors and flashbacks to her affair with Tom. Anna’s character comes off as flighty, dependant and extremely lonely.

Blunt does a fantastic job at playing a character who is a complete and utter wreck from the time the film starts up until the last few scenes. Rachel’s sad sunken eyes and trainwreck of a life make it hard for viewers to sympathize with her. Her unreliability makes it hard to trust what is fact and what is fiction. At times her character’s stumbling nervousness is nothing but annoying, almost as if the writers needed to fill space and decided to make her stutter and fumble during AA meetings, police interrogations and meetings with Megan’s husband. The girl on the train’s life has gone off the rails, but viewers cannot look away from the screen.

In the last fifteen minutes of the film, a semi-predictable twist comes along and brings the three stories together. The biggest thrill in “The Girl on the Train” occurs in the final scene. All of the drama is packed into one scene, making it so overcrowded with the truth that it almost makes up for all of the other shortcomings.

Rachel is finally able to piece together what happened the night Megan was murdered, and her marriage to Tom is explained in great detail, which completely reshapes the way she is perceived.

“The Girl on the Train” ends with a rushed explanation, an aggravating confession, a motive that has been beaten to death and another violent murder. Of course a story that starts out with a woman observing a couple whom she has no relation to ends with all of the characters being connected in some way, shape or form.

The majority of the film’s plot is spent building up to the climax. Although most of the ambiguous events are explained, there is little backstory provided to justify everyone’s somewhat-irrational actions. Taylor rapidly brings the movie to a close, leaving viewers with a distrust towards men and the idea that all women are crazy in their own way.

“The Girl on the Train” is two hours full of depression, alcoholism, drama and domestic abuse. I have not read the original book written by Paula Hawkins, but I want to after seeing this catastrophe of a movie. It is hard to turn a best-seller into an equally suspenseful psychological thriller, and I can only hope that the book is better.

“The Girl on the Train” is the product of the idea that everything is not as it seems, only more extreme and overdramatic. There were times where I had to look away from the gruesome events on the screen, but this trainwreck is slightly entertaining if you try not to read too much into the actual story.

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