FILM REVIEW | The Girl on the Train (2016)

FILM REVIEW | The Girl on the Train (2016)
Starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, and Luke Evans
Written by Erin Cressida Wilson based on the novel by Paula Hawkins; Directed by Tate Taylor
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) Rachel, devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel. (Film blurb ends)

The Girl on the Train (2016) starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, and Haley Bennett is a disappointing film, especially after reading Paula Hawkins’ source material. It was always going to be difficult to adapt The Girl on the Train to film due to the first person perspective of the novel (as told from the point of view of the characters played by Blunt, Ferguson, and Bennett in the film). Why the producers/studio/writer then furthered complicated the task by changing the setting from London to New York is bizarre, to say the least. Anyone familiar with trains in England and the United States understands there is a kind of intimacy between the trains and houses/buildings along the tracks in London, which tends not to exist in America. This flaw comes to the forefront during the pivotal scene of the story when Rachel’s eyesight suddenly develops an incredible zoom capability because otherwise, the houses are so far back from the tracks that very little is discernible from the train (especially since the train rarely stops in the film though the regular stop at this location due to the signal is a key component of the story in the novel). This New York setting leads to a series of questionable casting choices. I was very happy to see Haley Bennett again though I don’t think she was right for the role of Megan. Emily Blunt should be perfect for the role of Rachel but she also seems discombobulated by the setting change. While she continues to speak in an English accent, other non-American actors such as Luke Evans and Rebecca Ferguson adopt an American accent. It is almost like Blunt realized the magnitude the producers’ error but she could not do anything about it. However, it affects her performance, which seems unnecessarily melodramatic. The Girl on the Train is a film where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Mark’s Grade: C

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