REVIEW: “The Girl on the Train”

Graphic by Lindsey McGinnis '18

Graphic by Lindsey McGinnis '18


After a summer of fast-paced teaser trailers, “The Girl on the Train,” a highly anticipated movie adapted from Paula Hawkins’s bestselling book of the same title, was released on Oct. 7 to widespread disappointment. 

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) spends her nights drinking copious amounts of wine and trying to contact her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux), who she regards as a representation of how wonderful her life used to be. She becomes obsessed with a couple that she stares at from the train every day until one day the woman — Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett) goes missing. The film’s trailer promised an intriguing, fast paced drama, but the actual movie told a more confusing and unsatisfying story. 

Scenes of gratuitous violence, specifically in the murder of Megan, detracted from the storyline. The fact that the movie was set in New York instead of England was also odd, and didn’t add anything meaningful to the plot. No movie adaptation should stay 100% true to its original text — there are many things that can’t translate easily to the screen. However, this movie does not do its characters, namely the flawed but redeemable Rachel Watson, any justice. 

Like “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, “Girl on the Train” has been lauded for its obvious feminist writing. At the core of this story lies the struggles of three women fighting for reproductive freedom: Rachel fights the societal pressure of wanting a baby while dealing with the inability to get pregnant, Megan battles with the tragic death of her first born and Anna, Tom’s new trophy wife, struggles with motherhood and a loss of autonomy. One has to wonder if the director, Tate Taylor, simply didn’t know how to organize a female-centric story in a way that felt cohesive and authentic. 

After playing the lead in the 2015 drug cartel mystery “Sicario,” Blunt has proved she’s capable of headlining a fast-paced thriller. There is nothing superficial about her acting, but stripping her character down to a drunken, barren mess makes the performance meaningless. It’s impossible to enjoy a 112-minute spiral down a hole of alcoholism and depression.

At the theater, the trailer for “Fifty Shades Darker” played twice before the movie. Looking back, it perfectly foreshadowed the confused interpretation of “The Girl on the Train” that followed. Similar to the Fifty Shades series, “The Girl on the Train” portrays an opulent but nonsensical world that struggles to stand on its own.