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Book Review: The Girl on the Train


Book Review: The Girl on the Train

By Diane McCurdy

 The Girl on the Train will forever be compared to another girl – Gone Girl.  Both anti-heroines were first featured in best-seller books and then their stories were made into films and ultimately DVD’s. Rosamund Pike starred as the gone girl and the girl on the train is Emily Blunt – both lovely British actresses.  Adapting the script from the novel by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train must have given the screenwriter a massive headache because the story is told from the point of view of three different women and it see-saws back and forth in time.  Rachel is the protagonist. Anna is Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife. Megan is the nanny and it is her disappearance that supplies the arc of the story.

Rachel’s husband has left her and she has lost her job. She is overweight and alcoholic. In the book she is pitiful. But Rachel in the movie is portrayed by Emily Blunt. Her mascara may be smeared and her face blotched up a little but she is still Emily Blunt and gorgeous. Herein lies a flaw. The audience is supposed to tune in to the miserable appearance and unhappiness of this woman but it is difficult to do that when she looks like Ms. Blunt. Anyway, Rachel pretends to go to work every day. She peers longingly out of the window of the commuter train onto the street where she once lived. And she sees a couple and revels in their seemingly idyllic relationship. They represent her ultimate fantasy, the true happiness that has evaded her. They are her Romeo and Juliet, Ken and Barbie.  Then one day she sees the women do something untoward and soon afterward the woman vanishes. Into this mix lies another disturbing issue surrounding Rachel.  When she goes on one of her drunken binges she sometimes has blackouts. She knows that recently, at some point, a terrible event occurred but she cannot remember what. Driven by her loneliness and desperate voyeurism, she becomes inextricably involved in the search for the missing woman.

Because this is a psychological thriller there is a perfunctory twist at the end, which is heavily foreshadowed but solid nonetheless. Justin Theroux stars as the ex-husband with cameos by Lisa Kudrow and Allison Janney. Rebecca Fergusson is his new wife and Haley Bennet is the one who has disappeared. Danny Elfman provides a moody, provocative score. The Girl on the Train is not a great movie, but it is good entertainment. There is suspense and mystery as the audience attempts to figure out the fate of the missing woman and what exactly did Rachel have to do with it.