Film review: The Girl on the Train – Emily Blunt lifts this messy thriller

It’s always refreshing to see a film released primarily for the adult market. We all loved The Hunger Games, but imagine what the series could’ve been like had the franchise been given a 15 or even an 18 certification.

And Fifty Shades of Grey may have its critics (me being one of them) but at least it appealed to those of us not interested in sharing cinema screens with rambling tweens. The finest of the adult genre? Well, that has to be Gone Girl. But now there’s a new kid on the block, ready to steal its crown. Is The Girl on the Train a worthy adversary?

Photo: Universal Studios

Photo: Universal Studios

Alcoholic Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett), from the window of her train. One day, Watson witnesses something shocking unfold in the garden of the strangers’ home. Rachel tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning Megan is missing. Unable to trust her memory, the troubled woman begins her own investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.

Emily Blunt has become one of Hollywood’s finest actors, constantly adding new genres to her resume. From The Devil Wears Prada to Sicario and beyond, there is nothing she won’t try and The Girl on the Train is bolstered by a career-best performance by the actress. It’s never easy to play a drunk convincingly; you can look to some UK soap operas for proof of that, but she manages to pull it off exceptionally well.

Of the supporting cast, only Justin Theroux makes a lasting impact as Rachel’s ex-husband Tom, now living with his new wife Anna – a lacklustre Rebecca Ferguson. It would be unfair to sling too much mud at a very talented group of actors, but up against Blunt, there really is no comparison.

Elsewhere, the complex narrative of Paula Hawkins’ book translates to a rather messy filming style when viewed on the big screen. Continuous flashbacks from within Rachel’s mind are handled reasonably well by director Tate Taylor (The Help) and he manages to wrench everything together to stop the plot from becoming incoherent.

Unfortunately, The Girl on the Train is a victim of its own intense marketing campaign. The trailers have given away far too much for those who haven’t read the book and whilst the twists and turns aren’t immediately obvious, some of the Cluedo-esque fun has been removed. It’s clear Dreamworks wanted the film to resemble Gone Girl as much as possible, aiming to attract a similar audience, but this may have backfired slightly.

Overall, The Girl on the Train is a particularly faithful adaptation of the novel of the same name, held up by an intense and frankly incredible performance by Emily Blunt. Unfortunately, some of the film’s suspense has been lost by a poorly executed marketing campaign and as such it becomes a passable addition to the adult thriller genre. This year’s Gone Girl it is not.

The Girl on the Train rating: 6.5/10