Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Girl On The Train

If you’ve read the book ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins, then it’s likely that you’re aware that the movie adaptation has finally come out, and you’re pretty excited about it. I read the book when it first came out and it gripped me from the very beginning – although it’s similar to ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn in style and content, I always felt it was the more powerful of the two. Now both books have been made into films, and it’s interesting to see how ‘The Girl on the Train’ has changed by gracing our screens.

Rachel (Emily Blunt) lives a life that is a bit of a mess, but she has other priorities. On her train journey between work and home each day she spends time watching the residents of the houses on a street where she used to live, admiring one particular couple for their apparent perfection. When she discovers that the wife of the couple, Megan (Haley Bennett), is actually having an affair, she finds herself more involved than she should be when Megan goes missing and the blame is directed to Rachel herself by Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the wife of her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux). Being an alcoholic, Rachel can’t remember anything that has happened, and soon enough things start to get sinister.

Initially I was worried about the adaptation, as just a few minutes in I realised that there had been a dramatic change – the location had changed from London to Manhattan. I didn’t feel this added anything to the story (if anything, it took away), but thankfully there weren't too many other large changes that affected the storyline. Looking at it from the perspective of the plot it was actually quite true to the book, and so I’m glad that director Tate Taylor at least stuck with that.

Those of you that have read the book will know that the story is both gripping and disturbing, and the movie adaptation still conveys this well. We realise that Rachel is unreliable quite early on and so we don’t know who to trust, but constant reveals happen throughout to change our perspectives towards the characters. It’s a film you need to pay a lot of attention to, but also one that makes turning away quite difficult anyway due to the curiosity that it creates.

Blunt’s performance as Rachel is accurate and mesmerising, despite her not being someone I would initially choose to play her. She’s not a nice character, but for some reason you still care. Ferguson and Bennett also give good performances as Anna and Megan, although I felt they were both a little too Hollywood for the roles (again another reason why the film should have been set in England and not America).

What really made the film was the beautiful cinematography from Charlotte Bruus Christensen. Already disturbing, perfectly thought-out shots add tension and uneasiness that channels strongly through the viewer. It’s hard not to feel part of it all, and you’ll watch it with a constant sense of foreboding for what might happen next.

The film is also very graphic in a few places with both violence and sex, and so you might find yourself wincing more than once. Strangely though it still wasn’t as graphic as the book – there was a particularly harrowing flashback scene I was dreading from the start (readers will know which one I’m talking about) yet it seemed somewhat understated in the film version. In a way I’m glad as it is such a sensitive topic.

I watched the film with someone who hadn’t previously read the book and they had worked out what was really going on before the big reveal, meaning that the film is a little more obvious than the book was. It’s a great film on its own and well done when you take the original into account, but I’d strongly recommend reading the book first if you want to get the most out of the story. 


Hannah Read

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