What would you do if your observations on your daily commute could hold the key to solving a crime mystery? But nobody wants to believe you because you’re a bumbling, stumbling drunk with apparent psychotic periods and memory loss?
Enter, “The Girl On The Train“.
The official synopsis is as follows:
“Commuter Rachel Watson (played by Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott (played by Luke Evans) and Megan (played by Haley Bennett), from the window of her train. One day, Watson witnesses something shocking unfold in the backyard of the strangers’ home. Rachel tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that Megan is now missing and feared dead. Unable to trust her own memory, the troubled woman begins her own investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.”
The film first paints Rachel Watson as a complete mess and somewhat stalker-ish, thanks to her ex-husband Tom Watson (played by Justin Theroux). In fact, she’s almost a train wreck (no pun intended) – what with being jobless, directionless, and an alcoholic – if it were not for the times that she identified with her flaws and is embarrassed by them.
Unlike the lead female character in “Gone Girl“, Emily Blunt’s character in the novel-turned-movie “The Girl On The Train” is a bleary-eyed and in no way a “cool girl”. She’s anything but glamorous, nowhere near as calm and collected, and more often than not just staring into space while entertaining her many fantasies.
Because, you know, drunk.
It is within this inebriated world of hers that she creates fictional characters based on people and things that she observes when she looks out the train window. One youngish couple named Scott and Megan, in particular, was her favourite. In her head, they are truly, madly, deeply in love and have perfect lives. Until one day when she witnesses Megan’s act of infidelity, before Megan abruptly goes missing, and it sends a shock through her system.
She then tries to take matters into her own hands, knowing that she could help solve the crime while dodging bullets from her ex-husband Tom Watson (played by Justin Theroux), his new wife Anna Watson (played by Rebecca Ferguson), and Detective Sgt. Riley (played by Allison Janney).
This is when it gets intense. For that, we sing high praises for director Tate Taylor’s choice in casting, and applaud Emily Blunt’s “uncool” acting.
The same could be said for Tate Taylor’s pick for the man who would eventually play Tom Watson, Justin Theroux. Handsome and loving at first, Justin’s character eventually turns sleazy and menacing. Why? You’ll have to watch to find out. The point is, Justin Theroux’s versatility made it work.
On the other hand, Rebecca Ferguson, who plays Justin Theroux’s new wife Anna Watson, didn’t come across as steely or highbrow as we had expected. In fact, the character seemed more scared than vengeful in the film as compared to the novel.
Haley Bennett, who played the role of the gorgeous but troubled Megan Hipwell, also deserves a mention for acing her dark, deadpan expressions. It left ample room for the audience to try to figure her out (keyword being try) before the “OMG!” moments towards the end of the film.
And finally, the good-looking brute Luke Evans. You may remember him for his roles in “Fast & Furious 6” and “Dracula Untold“. As Scott Hipwell in the film, he didn’t appear to be as dishevelled and disturbed as he should’ve been, especially after Megan is missing and presumed dead.
A lot of references and comparisons to the novel were made in this review because I personally read it albeit some time ago. More often than not, a novel-turned-movie risks ruining a reader’s experience from interpreting and imagining the story and the characters firsthand. It does take a real skill to turn a book into a movie, after all. But for “The Girl On The Train”, I’d say that it’s not too bad, much thanks to Emily Blunt and the haunting cinematography.
And since I’m on the topic of reading the original “the Girl On The Train” material, perhaps time passes slower when one is reading because for some reason, it felt like the film planted suspicion too early into the movie and thus, stripped it of the same shock value (as the novel) when the truth (read: twist) eventually unravelled.
BONUS: Keep a look out for glimpses of Laura Prepon, who plays Emily Watson’s housemate, Cathy. Fans of “That ’70s Show” would sure as heck appreciate her ;)
Would I watch it again? Probably not. Would I recommend anyone to watch it? Yes, especially those who have read the novel. And well, everyone else too because it’s really an uncomplicated movie that will allow the mystery-lover in you to play along.
We’ll leave you now with the trailer:
“The Girl On The Train” is slated to be released in cinemas worldwide on 7th October 2016.
For more information, visit the movie’s Facebook page.