The girl on the train novel, written by Paula Hawkins, kept following me everywhere. I enjoy suspense thrillers more than any other genre so I bought the book after coming across all the hype. The tagline of the film is “based on the thriller that shocked the world” and the theme of the book is about how Rachel’s life changed because she saw something from the train. That was a clever idea in terms of marketing the book. The blurb will tempt you to stay away from anything and everything related to the book. My advice is, if you are planning to read the book then don’t watch the trailer. What Rachel sees from the train is revealed in the trailer and that was a major setback. I thought to myself “thank god I waited till I finished the book before watching it“.
Rachel is an alcoholic and anti-social woman who experienced a heartbreak in the past. She sees a perfect couple deeply in love with each other, later introduced to us as Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans). They are everything she wants to experience. But one day, her life changes from monotone train rider to someone with a purpose as Megan goes missing one day. Before that, she tries to come to terms with what she saw.
Hats off to Emily Blunt. This movie was the perfect follow up after watching “Huntsman: winter’s war” which was more like a big slap on Blunt’s talents. She is a versatile actress who could blend into any role easily and the girl on the train gave her that grasp. She received a well deserved BAFTA nomination for her performance, if stressed a little then an Oscar nomination is only around the corner. She is the only factor, apart from Elfman’s music, that is worth the 2 hours of this movie. The mysterious looks and parallel storytelling of her days with her husband where she is an alcoholic abusive and the scenes where she is loitering around Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and Tom’s (Justin Theroux) home makes her a mysterious person indeed. Due to her intense alcoholic habits, she is said to be having blackouts and therefore after having witnessed the event from the train, she is afraid that she reacted in a way that is unforgivable. We see the guilt and remorse in her eyes. At the same time, Rachel believes that Megan deserved what she got. Emily Blunt nailed it and emotions kept flowing from her eyes. The film as such lacked the punch Hawkin’s novel had; in the latter, you feel tensed till the resolution. The resolution is smoother and in a way, unexpected in the book. The uplifting aspect is the pro-feminist elements. Both Rachel and Anna never got along well but then during the time of crisis, they stood up for each other as women who faced a common factor and were exploited. The girl on the train is constantly compared with gone girl as the common base theme is a woman ‘missing’. Gone girl is more suspenseful and character creations are more popular but then at the end of the day, it is an anti-feminist narrative while the girl on train literally speaks up for women. They are “used”, “thrown” and exploited. Price is paid for standing up and there is unity while facing common adversity. Female desires are also shown as an intense drama. Three women approach it differently; all three of them want a family and they have sexual desires as well. The film barely focussed on that element Rachel and she is more of an angry hurt woman who lost everything. Megan is more of sexual nature who is never satisfied and is lost after a tragedy struck her. Anna is more grounded but based on what she did to Rachel, her morality is further questioned.
As far as the films are concerned, gone girl has better suspense and pace. We will constantly try to read between lines and figure if the presented character committed the crime or not. The girl on the train is sluggish and melodramatic.The first half of the film was painfully slow and we wait for that moment and the climax. Perhaps it was Taylor’s intention to present it melodramatically as the story is a drunk and depressed woman’s POV. There is suspense but then it is visible only when women talk to each other. The cinematography and editing focus on each woman observations and their feelings. There are artistic and symbolism moments like the scene where Rachel’s seeing the reflections on the train’s window and Megan’s sexual encounter in the woods. Haley Bennett was good in terms of bringing the other side of her basic nature. Rebecca Ferguson delivered a controlled acting and her combination scenes with Emily Blunt were done well. Justin Theroux had the layered person in his appearance and Luke Evans didn’t shed his “Bard” image. I was disappointed to see Ramirez in the role of Abdic. While I liked his acting, the character is supposed to be an Indian while Ramirez made it sound more American. The story takes place in New York and it was more of WTH for me as the book is centered around London. It was a big “why?”.
The girl on the train is worth a view. You will either like it or love it. If you are able to deduce the symbolism of events then it will be more interesting. The expectations I had after reading the book were not met due to the pacing. If you have absolutely no idea about the film, then you will love it.
Featured image: bustles