REVIEW - The Girl on the Train

Disclaimer - As you will know if you follow my Instagram, I've never read Paula Hawkins' book. It's on the list, I've even gone so far as to get it on my kindle but I've yet to crack the virtual spine. I knew nothing of the plot other than Emily Blunt's character watches a woman from the train each day, that it was originally set in London and that the character drinks. In the grand scheme of it, I pretty much went in with a virgin mind. I didn't even know anyone's name.



Touted as this years "Gone Girl" I was interested as I love a good thriller. The plot line itself was intriguing and very well thought out and just the right amount of misdirection. Haley Bennett was good as Megan, I found her convincing and as always Emily Blunt was excellent. Rebecca Ferguson as Anna was not as good as I would expect her to be (having seen her in The White Queen) and there we come to my issue with the movie - everything I liked about it were things not attached to the film.

I liked the story, and that is Paula Hawkins' work. I liked the actors, but then a good actor can, and they often do, compensate for what is lacking with their talent. What is lacking here is depth.

Comparing it against Gone Girl, as another thriller novel with an unreliable narrator, what is missing essentially is actually giving a damn about the characters. With Gone Girl what worked for that was the monologue provided by Amy's diary - in The Girl on the Train this is missing. We get some from Blunt's Rachel, and the therapy sessions of another give insight into her, but otherwise I actually found that frankly I didn't give a shit about anyone. Other than the fact I think I'm at least 90% cat based on my natural curiosity level, so needed to know what happened, nothing was keeping me in my seat.

Actually, not entirely true. I knew I could read the book/wikipedia. If I had been watching at home I would have nipped off and done some housework while watching without worrying. I really didn't care to watch it.

A good film thriller either follows someone working out events (a reporter, a detective or similar) or someone involved very talkative or with a voice over monologue. I spent last night thinking about this and as far as my experience goes, this rings true. With a book, especially one written in the first person, you get a greater depth to the story, you get the layers that can be hard to portray on film. A seemingly throw away line can have greater significance and make the mystery, the thrill, more entralling. If you've read Game of Thrones think to all the clues to R+L=J that never made it into the show - had Ned's recollections to himself from the first book been in the first season it really would have given the game away, but in the book they were more subtle and were missed by a lot of people on first read. Translating those sorts of things onto celluloid is hard, and The Girl on the Train fails.

Would I watch it again, maybe. Only after I've read the book, which is what the movie made me want to do. I'm only sad that I ruined the shock ending for myself.

No comments