Adapted from the critically acclaimed book of the same name, ‘The Girl On The Train’ does a pretty good job of emulating (and arguably exceeding) the expectations of the average book from which its based off. Alcoholic divorcee Rachel (Emily Blunt) is the protagonist we follow as she longs to be more like the couple she spies on the train home every day. After her marriage goes south, their euphoric love for one another makes her envious. When the girl she watches from the train, Megan (Haley Bennett), goes missing however, Rachel is mixed up in the missing persons case following a drunken blackout that puts her at the scene of the crime.
Its an intriguing, albeit slightly cliche, idea and for the most part it plays out well. Rachel’s amnesiac state lends well to her frequent vacant expressions and confusion as she tries to piece together that night.
The supporting characters, any of whom could have commited the murder (including Rachel herself), offer just enough suspicion in this thriller to keep you guessing until the final reveal.
For me, the film actually did a better job of portraying the story than the book, mainly for its quick pace that works well to gloss over a lot of the more intricate character details. Despite missing some key scenes from the book that do tease who is responsible for this, the film does a good job of keeping the mystery alive until the very end.
Having said that, its difficult to really elevate a film beyond the material for which it works off. My biggest issue with the book, and this spills over to the film, is the sheer lack of likability any of the characters have. Rachel is a drunk who takes advantage of her room-mate and shuns her help to get Rachel off the booze. Megan and her husband, behind closed doors, both have their own issues and Rachel’s ex-husband and new girlfriend do too. Whilst I can appreciate every character must have a flaw, it actually detracted from the experience with so many flaws for each character that they all became ugly, unlikable people that never feel like they deserve the empathy we’re supposed to feel for them.
Having said all of this, The Girl On The Train is a fun ride nonetheless, its quick pace manages to hide a lot of the flaws with the characters that threaten to turn this film into a poor showing. The mystery alone is enough to keep you going until the final reveal but I doubt many will want to board this train again once the ride ends.