As an avid reader of what a friend of mine calls “domestic noir”, I was understandably excited to hear of the adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train – especially following the success of the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. My excitement faded, however, when I learnt that the film would be set in New York not London (unnecessary), and upon seeing the disjointed and cheesy trailer.
Luckily the film is more enjoyable than its disappointing trailer. Emily Blunt’s portrayal of Rachel, the ostensible ‘girl’, is sincere and in some parts uncomfortable to watch but easily the best thing about the film. Alcoholic and nearing rock-bottom, Rachel rides the train every day back and forth past the house she used to share with her cheating husband and where he now lives with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and baby daughter. To punish herself further, she imagines the fairytale life her seemingly-perfect ex-neighbours Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett) have. When she sees Megan kissing another man, Rachel flies into a drunken rage and wakes up bruised and covered in blood, with no memories of what happened, and to the news that Megan is missing.
What follows is the untangling of the tangled lives of three women: Rachel, Megan and Anna – one hell-bent on redemption, one not who she seems, and one who is an utterly useless version of a woman – to solve the mystery of Megan’s disappearance. With plenty of deceit and man-hating hidden behind perfect suburban doors, the film veers off the rails to an end that is far less shocking than the story Hawkins’ builds in her novel.
While definitely not better than the book, The Girl on the Train is probably not a bad night out for a group of scorned women – if for nothing more than a bit of revenge fantasy.