The issue with creating a successful thriller film from a best-selling thriller novel is that rarely the same thrills thrill twice – the suspense is lost in a faithful re-telling.
So those expecting or desiring a verbatim, faithful to the core reimagining of Paula Hawkin’s novel of the same name will, I’m afraid, be leaving the cinema disappointed. It is this idea of comparison that is the center of negative critics reviews, the mass of tweets from viewers berating the changes, the diverting from the book’s enigmatic weaving of drama, mystery, suspense, and sex. The book will always be better. As a cinematic audience, we already know this – it is the gospel of cinema-goers and literature readers, we know the reality, yet still raise our hopes, our expectations, and are thus disappointed.
In an attempt to treat the film as a separate entity, perhaps we must forget the novel and source material even exists. The Girl On The Train works as a successful thriller, dark and dramatic, oozing with a certain something that raises questions as to what the film thinks it is – it has been given the Hollywood make over and there is enough clichéd panning shots of the titular train amongst a glorious backdrop that with re-editing it could easily be a simple melodrama – a woman’s tale of betrayal, rediscovering herself, and finding peace. There is a vibe of afterthought to the murder mystery; the central narrative becomes mere fuel for the character development of Rachel.
This is, of course, due to Emily Blunt. Blunt is a wonder to watch, mesmerizing, captivating in the way a car accident on the side of the motorway is – impossible to ignore. Alcoholic, broken and scorned – not Blunt’s usual array of emotions to portray, and yet she is as convincing as Rachel as she was as the zesty Emily in The Devil Wears Prada. It feels insulting to say, but Blunt pulls off pathetic very well. She is by far the character we sympathize with the most. That isn’t to say the rest of the cast don’t deserve applause, they do. Haley Bennett as Megan Hipwell is the perfect choice for one half of the perfect couple.
The Girl On The Train as a film contains the main pro the book does; three wonderfully complicated women that within the film’s 112 minutes attempt to offer insight into the human psyche, a character study into the modern woman.
You can catch a screening of The Girl on the Train here at FACT until Thrusday 27 October. Find out more by clicking here.