The Girl on the Train Movie Review
Just because it’s a faithful adaptation doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. The Girl on the Train, which both in book and movie form has been touted (unfairly so) as the next Gone Girl, steamrolls into the station with all of the intensity you’d expect from a generic thriller where the most interesting aspect is its alcoholic protagonist.
The book is decent. Decently written with a more straightforward and conventional story than Gone Girl, it’s an enjoyable beach read. It’s decent.
The movie... will make for a good, preferably discounted, rainy day rental. It’s just short of decent.
I had high hopes the movie, directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), would improve upon the book’s premise by amping up the twists, turns and mysterious elements, but sadly, the movie simply makes it clear how hit-or-miss the story is. The movie is extremely faithful to the book--to a fault--and the result is a mildly entertaining but typically dull adaptation that will leave non-book readers going, “Wait, that’s it?”
The highlight of The Girl on the Train is Emily Blunt, who turns in an inspired performance as the troubled protagonist. In the book, she’s barely likable and often quite annoying, but on screen, Blunt deftly navigates the tricky task of making the audience care for a woman who is incapable of caring for herself. Blunt’s portrayal of an alcoholic is spot-on and is the sole unique aspect of the film.
The rest of the cast is pretty decent as well, though most are trapped by the material into playing surface-level characters--not surprising given that the story has the depth of a TV murder mystery. I’ll also note that while I liked Edgar Ramirez here, I was disappointed to see that the filmmakers didn’t stick closer to the book and cast someone with darker skin, a fact that actually plays a role in the story.
The Girl on the Train isn’t a trainwreck by any stretch, but it looks and feels like a movie that Taylor tried really hard to keep on the rails--and just couldn’t quite do it. The first act works well enough, but the film lacks energy and the excitement factor to make it a legitimate, enthralling thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.