Though I was less than impressed with The Girl on the Train in book form, I like the talent associated with the movie, especially Emily Blunt, who plays Rachel, the titular character. So I went in with an open mind, but the last thing I expected was to be bored.
For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, here’s a spoiler-free version: a woman (Rachel) who takes a train every day becomes a voyeur of the lives of people who live along the train tracks. One day Rachel sees a young woman (Megan) kissing a man who’s not her husband, and then Megan goes missing afterward. Rachel is convinced what she saw is important to the investigation, and finagles her way into it as a helpful citizen. But wait—she’s a drunk and an extremely unreliable witness.
I tore through the book because Hawkins’s nonlinear and unreliable storytelling kept me constantly wondering what the heck was going on, despite my intense dislike of all the characters. They remain unlikable in the movie, even though Blunt, Haley Bennett as Megan, and Allison Janney as the investigating cop do good work. Rebecca Ferguson, a revelation in Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, is criminally underused as Anna, the third narrator in the novel.
Some prominent details have been changed (mainly Rachel is in NY instead of London) or left out altogether, but the adaption, written by Erin Cressida Wilson and directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), remains mostly faithful. Since I now know all the answers, it was hard for me to maintain interest. The story had lost its only hook: keeping me in the dark.
I sat next to a woman who hadn’t read the book, and it was clear from her vocal reactions she was really into the movie, especially the ending. So it might be a solid choice if you’re coming to it clean. Otherwise, it’s OK to miss this Train.
Nerd verdict: Take a different Train