The Girl on the Train (2021) – Netflix Movie Review

Remake Of A Movie Based On A Novel On The Train

The Girl on the Train is a mess. The original book was a competent enough thriller but felt sloppy in places; a haphazard story intentionally keeping you at arm’s length through some contrived twists before the final obvious reveal at the end.

The 2016 movie, adapting this novel, predictably fell into the same pitfalls, helped somewhat by an inspired Emily Blunt in the driving seat, carrying the film on her very competent and talented shoulders.

Fast forward to 2021 and this remake of the 2016 movie based on the 2015 book does not have the same luxury of a hugely talented actress on the driving seat. Nor does it have a distinct voice. Instead, the weak Hindi spin on this tale and some neon-lit sets aren’t enough to save this one from mediocrity. And mediocrity is being kind to this movie.

For those unaware of the original, The Girl on the Train follows a girl (here it’s Mira Kapoor) who finds herself reeling over a traumatic event that’s consumed her past. Turning to alcohol and stumbling her way through life, Mira gets on the same train every day, looking longingly at an idyllic house holding an idyllic couple, wishing that was her life.

One day though she notices something shocking and becomes mixed up in an event that changes her life forever. In this 2021 version we’re graced with a new character, that of Inspector Kaur, who begins investigating a missing persons case for a  girl called Nasrut.

These plot lines run parallel for the first half of the movie, eventually tying together for a new spin on this tale toward the dramatic climax. This spin is worse than a drunken Mira trying to stay upright on a moving train, delivering a questionable plot twist on top of the original twist to try and inject some originality into this one. The only trouble is, it doesn’t quite work.

The biggest problem with this movie comes from its over-dramatic performances and needless montages. There’s some genuinely baffling decisions here, including several different Hindi dance routines thrown in to pad out the run-time.

It also doesn’t help that Parineeti Chopra’s attempts at a drunk fall into cliched territory, a far cry from Blunt’s multifaceted persona. Then again, it was always going to be difficult to follow up her performance in that movie.

Some of this may have been forgiven if the movie had actually gone all-in on its Indian theme. I was actually looking forward to seeing more of the bustling Indian streets, the vibrant markets and sun-scorched vistas to make for an exciting romp through Delhi, Mumbai or even Jaipur.

Instead, what we get is a tonally confused mess that sets its Indian-centric cast deep in the heart of London, throwing in numerous neon-lit noir interiors in a bid to try and offset the dull, dreary weather that plagues England on a daily basis.

To be fair, there are some nice ideas here and the attempt to at least try and inject some originality into this story is welcome. Unfortunately this also comes at the expense of actually tightening up the screenplay into something more thrilling.

You can tell the filmmakers are banking on a lot of people going into this with fresh eyes, but in this age of reboots, remakes and sequels, The Girl on the Train is another big casualty, failing to do anything the book or 2016 movie hasn’t done better. This is one train you definitely shouldn’t ride.


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