By Cassie Waters
As someone who read Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the Train with a fascinated horror that meant I was glued to my copy for several days, I was sure that seeing the film would go one of two ways. It would either do the book complete justice and reaffirm all that I loved about it, or I would hate it, horrified by the changes made to turn it into a screenplay or by actors that I felt didn’t fit the part. However the reality was much more flat. I felt no joy or outrage at the adaptation. The film seemed to wilt, falling under the pressure of the expectations of an audience of readers. The film seemed to coast throughout, never reaching its potential. The only time I gripped my seat was at a gory moment at the end, more my own squeamishness than any tension achieved by the film.
However, despite the generally underwhelming nature of Girl on the Train, a shining light throughout the film was Emily Blunt as the alcoholic protagonist Rachel, a woman destroyed by her divorce from her husband and obsessed by the seemingly perfect life of a woman who lives near her former house. Her chapped lips, vacant eyes and slurred speech interspersed with outbreaks of pure rage at her situation made her appear both pitiable and potentially threatening. Through the shaking camera lens the audience is forced to confront what it is like to be in a permanent state of being drunk or hungover and the effect is haunting. Emily Blunt’s raw, unglamorous believability contrasted with Haley Bennett’s Megan, the woman at the heart of Rachel’s fantasies of the perfect life, who I felt came across as two dimensional and towards whom I felt no sympathy. Rebecca Ferguson, as the other woman turned wife of Rachel’s ex husband, was similarly disappointing. She didn’t quite manage to pull off the conflicting nature of a character who was both smug and self satisfied and deeply insecure. She could not compete with the on screen presence of Emily Blunt
Ultimately, the film relies heavily on the question of what happened that day when Megan went missing to interest the viewer. For those like me who have already read the book and know what will happen, the film does not do enough to make you invested in the story all over again, always falling short of the heights it could achieve, despite the brilliance of Emily Blunt. And if that isn’t enough to express the slowness of Girl on the Train, the fact my housemate fell asleep during it sums it up.
Image from The Guardian