The first thing you’re probably wondering is if I read the book. The answer to that is yes. And then you might be wondering, did I like the book? The answer to that is, “No, I LOVED the book.” The novel, in case you don’t know, was a huge success and at the top of the bestseller list in 2015. It was written by Paula Hawkins and I can’t wait for her next book.
Lastly, you might be wondering if I like the film, and the answer to that is a resounding, “NO.” Not only didn’t I like the film, it actually annoyed me.
First problem: The book was set in England, which gave it a certain neighborhood feel, a certain texture…The houses were close together, and small enough that you could easily believe that a person looking through the windows would have no trouble checking out what was going on inside.
For some ridiculous reason, the director Tate Taylor decided to set the story in New York, but I don’t even think it was filmed in New York. It looked more like some place in Canada, but that’s beside the point. The houses were so large, and so far back from the train tracks that our main character, alcoholic Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt), would have to have x-ray vision to peer inside and see what was going on. Also, these so-called New York houses were triple the size of the ones in England, so I found it hard to believe that she was able to look inside and see the habitants’ most intimate moments.
Second Problem: Without giving anything away, there was a character in the book who was Rachel’s friend. This character was extremely important in creating tension and giving insight into Watson’s psyche. Their relationship causes a great deal of stress and urgency for Rachel. In the film, they reduced this so-called friend/roommate to one or two lines.
Now that I’ve expressed what bothered me about the film, I should say something about the story. Rachel is an alcoholic, divorced and obsessed with her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), and his beautiful new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Since she has nothing better to do, Rachel takes every opportunity to harass the couple. Oh, did I mention the train she rides back and forth always conveniently stops right outside of her ex’s house so she can spy on the happy couple? But they are not the only ones that catch Rachel’s eye.
She also manages to get a glimpse into the world of ultra-macho Scott Hopewell (Luke Evans), and his beautiful young girlfriend Megan (Haley Bennett), who ironically bears a strong resemblance to Anna, and who used to be her nanny. Sound complicated? Not really. Eventually the film turns into a murder mystery, but by that time, I’m exhausted and craving a glass of wine.
Emily Blunt is quite good as an alcoholic, but for me it was a little one-note. The whole film felt rushed and underdeveloped. It would be interesting to see what reaction the people who haven’t read the book will have.
“The Girl On a Train,” written by Erin Cressida Wilson, opens in theaters Friday, October 7, 2016. I gave it three bagels out of five.