The Girl on The Train movie cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans
The Girl on The Train movie director: Tate Taylor
There is a delinquent pleasure in watching lives visible outside a train window. Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on The Train understood that and this is what made that bestseller so near and immediate. We had all imagined similar stories around people glimpsed on train rides; the book even stirred up the memory of some.
So it was easy to understand what drove Rachel in the book to take the train twice a day past the home she shared with her ex-husband, see him with his new wife and child in there, and linger upon another couple, apparently deep in love, that lived two houses away. The fact that this was mostly an alcohol-addled obsession made this trip even more poignant, with Rachel’s world always hanging somewhere between imagination and reality.
The book had the luxury of telling the story of what happens to that girl on the train, and the lives she spies, through different perspectives — drawing instant comparisons with that other, far more complex, bestseller, Gone Girl. Director Ted Taylor and Erin Cressida Wilson, who has adapted The Girl on the Train for the screen, decide not to take the route of the book — unlike Gone Girl itself, for example — and go for a jumble between Rachel (Emily Blunt), Megan (Hailey Bennett) and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson).
It’s a grave injustice.
Blunt brings such a raw, pained, mortified portrait of an alcoholic to live that it’s a shame that the filmmakers fail to recognise this as essentially her story, and those she unintentionally affects. The inordinate time devoted to Anna, and especially Megan, in their domesticity and even very movie-like crises, take away from Rachel’s tale of human despair and what it has been wrought from.
As Taylor struggles to string together the different narratives and shuttles between present and past, the incongruities of the book also start showing up. At the heart of that book lay deep-seated gender stereotypes about love, family, motherhood, and what was acceptable domestic abuse. Just that behind what seemed initially like a woman’s story, but with alcohol, sex and violence, Hawkins hid the stereotypes better.