By Elizabeth Pagan
Published: October 19th, 2016
On Friday, October 14, I paid a visit to Union Square`s Regal Theatre and watched fall`s newest thriller, “The Girl on the Train.”
For 17 stops, I experienced my own moments as a girl traveling on the 4 train to my 6:40 p.m. showing. I walked onto a crowded train, found a seat, and blankly stared into the window across from me like Paula Hawkins` female protagonist, Rachel Watson. Of course, my 20-minute commute to downtown Manhattan was nothing compared to the main character`s. Rachel rides the train every day heavily drunk and obsesses over the “perfect couple” she sees passing by her window. But are they really the ideal match?
As someone who has read the February 2015 New York Times Best Seller, I was a little disappointed in the film`s adaption, but I knew that was going to happen.
For starters, the movie is not set in London, but in New York City—strike one. Luckily, the film-makers casted Emily Blunt as their lead role, an English woman. I would`ve been a little upset if they made a dramatic change with the starring role. However, having an all-American cast, with the exception of Megan`s (Haley Bennett) therapist, Dr. Kamal Adbic, played by Edgar Ramírez, makes Rachel seem like an outsider. The two had a funny bonding moment during the film when Rachel commented on his Hispanic accent.
“Where are you from?” she said. Adbic replied, “I`m an American Citizen.” This scene, along with some others, created laughs in the theatre.
If you`ve already seen “The Girl on the Train,” you`re probably still wondering about a few of the main and minor characters in the film. I`m giving my second strike to the movie`s lack of character development. Details are a key ingredient to shaping a well-crafted story, and this movie lacked just that.
In the novel, Hawkins definitely provides insight on Rachel`s relationship with her roommate, Cathy (Laura Prepon), and how she really feels about Rachel’s alcoholism. There`s more background on Anna`s (Rebecca Ferguson) storyline with Rachel and her ex-husband, Tom Watson (Justin Theroux). The director totally neglected Scott`s (Luke Evans) small, likeable moments in the novel with the curious protagonist, though. They went straight down the controlling, hot-tempered husband route, which he is, to say the least. Surprisingly, he isn`t on edge all the time around Rachel. In fact, there are a few scenes that hint there`s some attraction between the two. You absolutely wouldn`t have known this in the feature.
You also don’t know how Dr. Adbic feels about Megan`s flirtations during their sessions together, but him yelling at her in Spanish can help you with that impression.
Thankfully, or maybe not thankfully, Tom is still Rachel`s lying, cheating and abusive ex-husband. He truly is terrible and heartless.
Strike three goes to the creepy guy always traveling on Rachel`s train. Don’t worry, there`s an explanation for that.
With three strikes marked in this review, let’s move on to the noteworthy pros.
The events in “The Girl on the Train” are seen from the point of view of three women: Rachel, Megan and Anna, who are all connected to each other in some way. You already know who Rachel is, now let me introduce you to Megan, who is a part of the “perfect” married couple.
Just like Rachel, Megan is pretty messed up herself. She seeks therapy with Dr. Adbic to help her confront and cope her adolescent past and feelings towards pregnancy. Their sessions are a little weird, at least on Megan`s part. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but I`m sorry to say that she dies. This plot is driven by Rachel`s quest to find out who her killer is. After seeing Megan with another man who isn’t Scott, Rachel feels obligated to figure out who murdered her, and she doesn’t hold back from taking risks during the search. Rachel even becomes a potential suspect in Megan`s murder, but that`s because she can`t remember where she was the same night as the killing.
Anna is Tom`s new wife and ex-mistress, and she is out to get Rachel jailed for her late night phone calls and texts to Tom, invading her home, and holding her newborn in a drunken state – does she go too far?
It doesn’t come as a surprise to Anna that Tom is falling back into his old habits again. I mean, she was the “other woman” before. But Anna has been occupied with motherhood, leaving Tom on the outside of the fence. She needs someone to blame for his mistakes and it`s not her this time.
I loved the small, yet, powerful portions of symbolism hiding quietly in the film`s background. Emily Blunt is dressed in mostly dark clothes which is a representation of Rachel`s mental and emotional health. In the feature`s closing scene, Rachel is sitting in Central Park and wearing a light blue fall coat. At this point of the movie, she has turned her life around. Going to AA meetings has helped her clean up her act. I can`t forget about the Metro North train running in the background as Rachel tries to connect the dots of Megan`s murder. Flashbacks overlap with present events in this movie, and this is quite nice to witness in either a book or movie, which is why it has been incorporated in both versions of “The Girl on the Train.”
Overall, would I recommend this film to someone? Yes. This movie offers a mix of mystery, suspense, questionable people, forbidden love, scenes that will fill your face with shock and sadness, and finally, death and blood – because what psychology thriller would be complete without some? Example: “Gone Girl.” Walk, drive, or even take a train to your local movie theater, grab a snack, and glue your eyes to the wide screen showing of “The Girl on the Trai