REVIEW: ‘Girl on the Train’ is fun despite flaws

REVIEW: Girl on the Train is fun despite flaws

Paula Hawkins released a novel, “The Girl on the Train,” in 2015 that reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It still sits atop some lists and has been the mystery thriller of the past couple years.

It has now been adapted to the big screen and released in theaters across the world. The film was directed by Tate Taylor and stars Emily Blunt as the main character Rachel Watson.  It’s a movie about alcoholism, sex and violence. 

Rachel has an alcohol problem and lives with her friend Kathy, played by Laura Prepon. She details what she sees out her window when she rides the train from suburban New York to Manhattan.

The first half of the movie was a bit dragged out, but it was integral to the story . Still, there are some evident flaws in the first act that drove me the wrong way.

The first problem I had was the camera work. The shaky-cam style played into Rachel’s drinking problem, but it didn’t help the story.

A handful of the actors are a problem as well.

Allison Janney played the detective questioning Rachel throughout the film. She was miscast and her character was barely necessary. I think some of her poorly delivered lines had to do with choppy writing, but she was a definite lowlight in this film.

Haley Bennett played Megan Hipwell. Megan is an important part of the plot but she seemed to struggle grasp her role in the first act. She pulled it together as the movie went on and I ended up liking her performance.

Justin Theroux played Tom Watson Rachel’s ex husband and was also miscast. I think some of this can also be attributed to some bad writing but I think Taylor could have found a better actor for this important role.

The last main flaw I have with this movie is the direction and plot line try to be too similar to “Gone Girl” in ways. Those who have seen David Fincher’s 2014 film also adapted from a bestselling novel will understand but I’ll stay spoiler free on both films. That being said, whether or not you have seen “Gone Girl,” “The Girl on the Train” is an interesting plot line and a fun ride in the theater.

While there are plenty of flaws in this film, there are also plenty of bright spots. The second half of this film I was engaged and eager to see what happened next. It’s a fun mystery flick and it seems we only get those one or twice a year now, so they’re worth paying the price of admission.

Emily Blunt put on a show with her performance and I had a great time watching her. She does a stellar job as an alcoholic and the writing for her role helped her rather than hurt it (which can’t be said for some of the other characters). 

Rebecca Ferguson and Luke Evans were also enjoyable to watch in their roles and added to the fun of this film. The twists and turns of this mystery gave me unexpected chills.

I honestly had low expectations for this film, but left the theater really having enjoyed some of the performances and in awe of the plot. Some of the writing and casting could have used some work, but the score wasn’t bad and I ended up liking some of the cinematography. Of particular note were the shots of suburban New York.

“The Girl on the Train” is a flawed yet fun movie. I believe it will get better audience reception than it has from critics due to the success of the book. You don’t have to rush out of the theater to see this one, but I advise giving it a watch when it comes to TV. 

Final grade: B-