First Hit: Although I was appropriately confused at the beginning, the story came together nicely at the end and Blunt’s acting was sublime.
I’ve said this before, I do not read fiction novels because if a film is made from it, I'm generally disappointed. Good books do a great job of creating images and flow inside the reader’s brain. Films from books are versions of the screenwriter's and directors (and sometimes producer’s) internal images. Film is a different medium and therefore telling a story has some limitations but almost unlimited visual options to tell the story. Failures of books I've read that totally disappointed me on the screen are Ayn Rand books and the Harry Potter books. The films based on Rand books were complete dogs. The Potter films failed in more ways than one compared to the books. This book, "The Girl on the Train", must have been enthralling because in 2015 it spent 13 weeks at the top of the national bestseller list. From what I saw in the film, I can see why they liked it. The screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson seemed very clear about how this story would unfold. Using multiple narrators, the director used captions to push the story back and forth in time, I was fascinated with Rachel’s (Emily Blunt - narrator) unraveling, the back and forth of being drunk and sober and then pulling it together revealing the truth. Rachel was married to Tom (Justin Theroux), she had a drinking problem and he divorced her for Anna (Rebecca Ferguson - narrator). On a daily basis Rachel use to look at her old house, now occupied by her former husband and Anna, from the train window. She also would see a couple whom she thought were the perfect couple a few houses down from her old home. This couple, Scott and Megan (respectively Luke Evans and Haley Bennett – narrator), would appear through the window of the train to always be happy and loving each other. However, the true story about Rachel, Anna, and Megan’s lives would reveal themselves to be different than the Rachel’s drunk, through the train's window, version. A murder happens and it’s up to Detective Riley (Allison Janney) to provide clues and pressure allowing Rachel to discover the truth about herself and what happened.
Blunt was amazingly sublime. She was perfect in her drunk and sober selves. The subtle transitions, movements and actions between these selves was true with my experience of alcohol abuse. I would not be surprised and actually expect her to be nominated for an Oscar. Theroux was good, however the depth to his characters’ intensity and darkness wasn’t fleshed out enough. Ferguson was an interesting character and I really liked how she was able to make her role work and also show more of Theroux’s character. Bennett was strong as a difficult character to like or understand. She did a great job of showing a troubled woman’s fight to open up and be authentic. Evans was very strong as the intense husband who was also an intense controlling type person. Janney was very good in her more minor role as a police detective trying to piece together a murder. Wilson wrote a strong script which appeared to be from a very complex book by Paula Hawkins. Tate Taylor had a very clear vision of what he wanted to see and to keep it paced to have this film work. I could have imagined this film to be really long given the complexity of the plot, but Taylor clearly didn’t want the audience to be bored and trusted that they would piece together the various story pieces he was presenting.
Overall: This was a complex story and Blunt’s superb acting brought this story together.