Based on Paula Hawkins 2015 bestseller, The Girl on the Train is a fairly twisty thriller which puts main character Emily Blunt through the mill.
Rachel is a wreck- divorced, alcoholic and obsessed with her former husband’s new family, and we get to witness her further collapse throughout the film. That gives Blunt plenty to play with in her most layered and unglamorous role to date, and she’s pretty much terrific.
She’s also easily the best thing in this adaptation, which isn’t entirely a criticism. The Help director Tate Taylor knows what he has to do here and delivers in a workmanlike style. There’s heavy drama and personal struggles, the unreliable narrator, a pinch of trashiness and the smallest sprinkle of horror.
The resulting concoction is generally pretty entertaining, helped along by a bunch of talented performers including Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans and Edgar Ramirez. After Blunt, young Haley Bennett makes the biggest impression, with one of the meatier roles.
It all lollops along at a pretty slow pace, with spikes of revelation or violence that got a serious reaction out of my audience- perhaps my brain is just too used to onscreen violence.
There’s little enough really going on though, with two dimensional characters and twists that are telegraphed or come out of nowhere. It feels a little like Gone Girl but without the depth and subtlety, though it’s also a good deal shorter.
The Girl on the Train achieves its aim of delivering thrills and does so in a way which is simple and unfussy. There’s something to be said for that but fans of the book already know how things are going to turn out, and those with hopes for an above average thriller might be disappointed.