Emily Blunt shows us what she’s made of in The Girl on the Train, which offers a near perfect adaptation of the amazing book!

The Girl on the Train poster - Emily BluntThe Girl on the Train is, of course, based on the bestseller hit from last year. I loved the book, which meant I was very excited about this adaptation, but also expected it wouldn’t quite hit the mark. Well, color me pleasantly surprised. I got exactly what I wanted from The Girl on the Train movie in sense of character portrayals, style and story.

And even though we follow the lives of three women, Rachel is absolutely the main protagonist. Rachel is portrayed by Emily Blunt, whom I adore. She kicked ass in Edge of Tomorrow and has shown she can tackle everything from sharp comedy (The Devil Wears Prada) to period pieces (Young Victoria). Still, I wasn’t sure she’d be right for Rachel, who is a grotesquely broken woman, that battles with addiction. Both with alcohol and missing her ex-husband.

The thing is; if the character of Rachel isn’t believable, then The Girl on the Train cannot work.

Of course, I should’ve known Emily Blunt could take on this character. And she definitely proved that she was the right choice. She’s both vulnerable and annoying as the broken – but still very brazen – Rachel. And yes, she is also quite disgusting, when she wakes up after having had way too much to drink and vomited while half asleep. It’s not pretty, but it is very realistic.

The Girl on the Train movie review - Emily Blunt

Three women pulled together by death and depression

All three woman – Rachel, Megan, and Anna – live their ordinary lives without much happiness. It seems they’ve all ended up in their own lives, without really knowing what they wanted. Or discovered that it was nothing like they expected. Their lives become intertwined when Megan suddenly disappears.

She used to work as a nanny for Anna, and Rachel becomes involved because she has a feeling she knows what happened. Rachel just can’t seem to remember what happened on the night Megan disappeared. And since she was very drunk and angry, she’s afraid maybe she did something. She just can’t remember, and so she starts to investigate on her own.




 
The visual style of The Girl on the Train perfectly captures the lives of these three women. Their lives are gray and their emotions are close to the surface, but they do their damnedest to push them down. This is perfectly illustrated via intense close-ups that always focus on the faces of these actresses. It lingers just long enough for us to see the cracks in their veneer. And, in Rachel’s case, alcohol always shatters the mask she tries to show the world.

The cinematographer on The Girl on the Train is Charlotte Bruus Christensen, who is Danish. And yes, of course, we are very proud of this fact and wanted to mention that. But also, I’m sure you’ll notice how important cinematography is for this story. Bruus Christensen was also the cinematographer on The Hunt, which starred Mads Mikkelsen (HannibalDoctor Strange) and earned Denmark an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign film.

The truth behind the smile

Swedish Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation) portrays the most “common” character, if you will. She’s not an alcoholic and desperately depressed, but she is still very damaged. Anna is relatively newlywed with a young child, but she’s also very nervous about something happening to her child. She really isn’t especially happy, but she manages. And Ferguson portrays her character with the perfect mix of strength and vulnerability.

The Girl on the Train movie review - Rebecca Ferguson

Finally, we have Haley Bennett (The Haunting of Molly Hartley). Besides Emily Blunt’s Rachel, Bennett’s Megan is the character we get to know slowly. Layers are peeled back to reveal a very sad backstory, which has shaped her entire life.

Again, the casting was spot-on with this character. Bennett moves elegantly and effortlessly from being a determined seductress to a woman with no real passion left for life.

The Girl on the Train movie review - Haley Bennett

Stories by and about women are for everyone!

The Girl on the Train is most certainly about women, but three men also play huge parts. These men are played by Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, and Edgar Ramirez. On paper, I would expect Theroux’s character to be the most interesting. However, I felt Evans and Ramirez gave the most memorable and intense performances.

They all did a good job, but these two still stood out for me. And again, the story is very much about the three women, so the male characters are merely supporting.

Still, these supporting characters are paramount to the story. Other supporting characters only appear for a few minutes, but also manage to leave lasting impressions. Laura Prepon (Orange is the new Black), Lisa Kudrow (Friends) and Alisson Janney (The Help) are the most important smaller supporting characters.

Obviously, the fact that all characters are played by pretty big names also demonstrates how popular the book was. 


This is how you do an adaptation right

The Girl on the Train book was written by Paula Hawkins, but she didn’t want to attempt writing the adapted screenplay. Of course, she’s constantly being compared to fellow female author, Gillian Flynn, who wrote both the book and screenplay for Gone Girl. The script gave Flynn lots of awards and even more nominations – so, of course, they asked Paula Hawkins if she wanted to do the same.

She decided to pass and instead, the screenplay was written by Erin Cressida Wilson, who also wrote the script for Chloe and Secretary. Both movies with strong female characters, so it seemed like a smart choice. And clearly, it was!

Another one familiar with movies centered around brilliant female characters is director Tate Taylor. He directed The Help a few years ago, which earned Octavia Spencer pretty much every award known to man. Also, both Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain were nominated for their roles in The Help.

Just like it was the case in The Help, the women in The Girl on the Train are not perfect or simple. They’re real!

We get to experience everything from them struggling to be “good girls” and realizing they can actually be whatever they want. Good and bad.

The Girl on the Train is one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps even my favorite adaptation ever. And since I loved the book, that says a lot. If you loved the book, then you definitely need to watch this movie. If you hated the book, then you probably won’t enjoy the movie. The movie is the book on a big screen. Simple as that!

The Girl on the Train is out in theaters worldwide.

Details

Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (based on the novel by Paula Hawkins)
Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow

Plot

A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

Karina

Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina

Latest posts by Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard (see all)

Review Date
Reviewed Item
The Girl on the Train
Rating
41star1star1star1stargray