THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (15, 112 mins) Thriller/Romance/Action. Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Allison Janney, Laura Prepon. Director: Tate Taylor.
Released: October 5 (UK & Ireland)
Published last year, Zimbabwean-born author Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl On The Train has become a literary sensation, selling in excess of 11 million copies worldwide.
As with Gone Girl, another taut thriller with a gasp-out-loud narrative twist, Hollywood came a-knocking.
Tate Taylor, director of the Oscar-winning civil rights drama The Help, was duly hired to shunt the book’s setting from London to New York for this glossy film adaptation.
Erin Cressida Wilson’s assured script retains a similar structure to the book, exploring tangled themes of motherhood, revenge and betrayal through the eyes of three women, who are unwittingly trapped in cycles of violence.
Using on-screen title cards to chart the fractured chronology, the film shifts perspectives between these flawed yet resourceful protagonists, while attempting to pull the wool over our eyes.
It’s an entertaining though not exactly pulse-quickening ride.
Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) has self-imploded following an acrimonious divorce from her cheating husband, Tom (Justin Theroux).
When she wakes from her drunken stupors, Rachel has alarming gaps in her memory and, on one occasion, she is covered in bruises and blood.
As a result of her intoxication, Rachel loses her job at a PR firm, which she conceals from her roommate Cathy (Laura Prepon) by taking her usual train each morning and sitting in the park with a bottle of spirits.
The journey takes her past her old house where Tom is now happily settled with his mistress Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and their baby.
The tracks also pass by the residence of neighbours Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), and Rachel fantasizes about the couple’s seemingly perfect relationship.
One morning, Rachel stares bleary-eyed out of the train window and glimpses Megan in a clinch with another man.
Megan subsequently vanishes and Detective Sergeant Riley (Allison Janney) becomes interested in Rachel’s hazy recollection, especially since the drunkard has no alibi for the hours leading up to Megan’s disappearance.
Perhaps psychiatrist Dr Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez) can help Rachel to unlock her subconscious.
She will soon realise that some memories are best forgotten.
The Girl On The Train is a smart psychological potboiler anchored by a strong performance from Blunt as a self-destructive woman, who is figuratively going off the rails in her darkest hour.
Unreliable narrators are far more tantalizing on the page than the big screen, and there are a couple of pivotal moments in Taylor’s film, which tip the wink too early to characters’ dark ulterior motives and personal ties.
Nevertheless, the picture chugs briskly down various dramatic sidings before arriving at a messy final reckoning that satisfies rather than surprises.