When adapting a book for the big screen, the safest option isn’t necessarily the best one, but in the case of The Girl on the Train, sticking closely to the source material has paid off.
The Girl on the Train is one of this year’s most highly anticipated films for good reason. Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins, which drew comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s mega-hit Gone Girl upon release, the film version is smart, gripping, sexy, and engrossing.
Director Tate Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson have done a solid job here, crafting every scene carefully to match the novel’s addictive storyline. Our heroine’s fragmented and dodgy memory unfolds in the best possible way, dragging the audience further into her psyche and leaving them more confused than ever. Emily Blunt is truly the perfect Rachel Watson, and plays the drunken, angry, and sad lead with vigour. Those who were worried that she wasn’t frumpy or haggard looking enough to play Rachel will be rather pleased. Blunt is the furthered thing from haggard but rather uses every other trick in her repertoire to come across as messy and pathetic as possible.
Portraying the subject of Rachel’s obsession is Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven), who plays the missing and alluring Megan Hipwell. There are many sides to Megan, but Bennett was more than up for the challenge of bringing out every troubled and devastating truth, subsequently stealing every scene. Other stand outs in the cast are Justin Theroux, who plays Rachel’s ex-husband and Megan’s employer. Theroux was a late addition to the cast but, as it turns out, a crucial one, with the ability to put on a convincing disguise with a simple change in expression.
Given an entire book had to be squeezed into a few hours, not everything made the cut, though fans will be relieved to know the most important parts did. There was certainly less Édgar Ramírez (Dr. Kamal Abdic) than I had hoped, and certainly not enough Luke Evans, who plays Megan’s controlling husband. However, the moments we do get to enjoy these magnificent talents are not wasted, and will certainly leave a lasting impression.
It’s a tough gig to bring a beloved book to the big screen, but this one ticks all the right boxes.