Emily Blunt had everything to lose by taking this role, but in this audience member’s eyes, it was all her gain.
Some originally criticized the beautiful Blunt for signing on to portray the part of alcoholic and rattled Rachel in the film adaptation of 2015 best-selling psychological thriller The Girl on the Train. But she pulled it off perfectly and convincingly, bearing glossed-over eyes and mascara-blotched face. Interviews with Blunt reveal great lengths taken by her make-up artist to be sympathetic to the addiction and representative of its effects.
We meet Rachel on the train she takes to and from the job she got fired from a year ago in London (Oops, I mean New York City, the setting Dreamworks selected over the book’s London location. Blunt’s British accent was an apparent non-factor in this decision).
Each day, Rachel sips vodka through her water bottle in her claimed seat, observing the lives of the people she sees out the window. On her daily commute, two families consistently capture her attention. She steals glances into the home where her ex-husband Tom, his mistress-turned-wife Anna and their child live but focuses on a house just down the block. She becomes enthralled with the couple’s lives she captures glimpses of. The pair begin representing what Rachel lost after her ex, Tom, divorced her because of her alcoholism and what present-day Rachel longs for.
The alternate reality of happiness Rachel writes in her mind for the couple is shattered when she observes the woman with another man on her balcony. She wakes up the next morning hungover, covered in blood, and clinging to her last memory—looking down a tunnel near the place where Tom and the couple live. She soon learns the woman, whose name she learns to be Megan, has gone missing. Police show up in her home, and Rachel, who struggles to put together a testimony to explain herself, becomes a full-fledged suspect.
From this point on, The Girl on the Train seemed a little like the multi-narrative films—remember Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve—that the beginning of the decade brought us. My brain began juggling the storylines of Rachel, Megan and Anna, anticipating their lives to intersect along the line.
Rachel befriends Megan’s husband Scott to reveal what she knows about his wife’s affair and, without telling Scott, begins visiting Megan’s therapist to try to gain insight into Megan’s life. We learn Megan was a nanny for Tom and Anna’s child and was having an affair with Tom. It’s a little like a cobweb.
When all the character’s stories meet up and crystallize, the film wraps up in action-filled, surprising fashion. We learn the identity of Megan’s captor, and the discovery influences each person in the narrative significantly.
As someone who read the book the summer it came out and fell in love with the suspenseful narrative, I can say the film was a fair adaptation of the text. The film’s largest flaw falls in its treatment of the conclusion. After nearly 100 minutes of build-up, I think more time should have been allotted for the final scenes. While the film had moments of high activity and interest sprinkled throughout, it saves most of the action for the end. The concluding scenes close several gaps in a short chronology, and I think the audience deserves a little reprieve to sort through their reactions to each reveal.
Critics have mixed reviews on the film, which came in number one at the box office this weekend. It maintained my interest, satisfied my expectations for adapting Paula Hawkin’s novel, and it deserves four stars.
Gina Eisenhut is a senior journalism major. This review reflects the views of the author only.