Shaky mys­tery on wrong track

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

I was one of the 11 mil­lion-plus who bought and read The Girl on the Train novel so was look­ing for­ward to see­ing how the mys­tery-thriller’s quick-paced twists and turns played out on the big screen.

Throw in di­rec­tion from Tate Tay­lor – whose 2011 drama The Help took home the Best Pic­ture Os­car – and the se­lec­tion of Sec­re­tary writer Erin Cres­sida Wil­son to adapt Paula Hawkins’ lit­er­ary phe­nom­e­non and ev­ery­thing seemed on the right track for great­ness.

And while Emily Blunt may not fit the dowdy, over­weight book de­scrip­tion of lead­ing lady Rachel, she is one of the finest ac­tresses cur­rently ply­ing her trade.

Why, then, does the movie take on The Girl on the Train feel a lit­tle flat? Per­haps it’s be­cause I knew ev­ery­thing that was com­ing – this is one of the most faith­ful cin­e­matic adap­ta­tions of a novel you’ll ever see.

Maybe it’s the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate the ac­tion from the book’s bustling Lon­don to a pic­ture-per­fect New York full of fancy homes and au­tum­nal back yards.

The flash­back and mem­ory-fu­elled plot de­vice doesn’t work as ef­fec­tively on screen as it does in print and, in my hum­ble opin­ion, the film sign­posts its big­gest rev­e­la­tion even ear­lier than its source ma­te­rial did.

But even al­low­ing for its flaws – and hav­ing ad­vance no­tice of its sto­ry­line – The Girl on the Train still works as a cap­ti­vat­ing, al­most ghoul­ish peek be­hind the cur­tain of lives that are nowhere near as per­fect as they ap­pear on the sur­face.

Wil­son’s script loses none of the se­crets, lies, false­hoods and sketchy mem­o­ries flow­ing through the pages of Hawkins’ book to serve up a host of deeply flawed char­ac­ters all with their own agen­das.

Char­ac­ters that are played with great gusto by a largely im­pres­sive cast, led by yet an­other ac­com­plished turn by Lon­doner Blunt.

She may not be the Rachel pic­tured by many read­ing the novel, but Blunt makes for a con­vinc­ing drunk; sport­ing tired eyes and a per­ma­nently scar­let nose given fre­quent ex­tra em­pha­sis by Tay­lor’s cam­era close-ups.

Like in last year’s out­stand­ing Si­cario, Blunt is put through men­tal and phys­i­cal hell as the un­re­li­able nar­ra­tor out to solve the mys­tery.

Jen­nifer Lawrence look-a-like Ha­ley Ben­nett is a pow­der keg of flir­ta­tious vul­ner­a­bil­ity and an icy Re­becca Fer­gu­son leaves you ques­tion­ing her mo­tives right to the very end.

Edgar Ramírez’s hard to read ther­a­pist sees the Venezue­lan out­shine his star­rier male costars; Luke Evans is sad­dled with a thank­less, un­der­writ­ten role and Justin Th­er­oux strug­gles with his char­ac­ter’s devel­op­ment.

A per­func­tory thriller that may have worked bet­ter dur­ing the late 80s/ early 90s pot­boiler craze, The Girl on the Train fails to build on the solid plat­form af­forded by its more mem­o­rable source ma­te­rial.

On the look­out Blunt casts her eyes out of the train

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