Book-to-movie adaptations are hit and miss for a lot of people, myself included. In my opinion, most of the time the movie does not even come close to reaching the quality of the book. It can be extremely disheartening to become so immersed in a story you have read, to then have that shattered by a movie that doesn’t seem to capture the same essence of the book. I can’t even remember how many times I have read a book that has blown me away, only to have it quickly tainted by a horrible movie. A few of the more memorable excruciating adaptations include Eat Pray Love, Shutter Island, The Da Vinci Code, and yes Twilight. I am a 30 year old woman who read and loved all the Twilight books. There I said it. Regardless of your choice in book genre, the chance that the movie will replicate what you imagined while reading the book is slim to none. And I think that is where the disconnect happens. Murder mysteries are all the rage right now, from the captivating story of Making a Murderer to the cult classic fictional Gone Girl. It is enjoyable to read a mystery and try and solve it before the big reveal happens. Add some plot twists in there and you have the perfect mixture for an entertaining experience. For fans of murder mysteries, Paula Hawkins novel The Girl on the Train will either be a “duh I read that when it first came out” or it is sitting in your imaginary book queue to definitely be read at a later date. A story based around 3 different but similar women, The Girl on the Train created a woven plot of infidelity, affluence, and murder. I enjoy a good murder mystery so this was right up my alley. I read it within one weekend and was immediately hooked. Fast forward a year and come to find out that they are making a movie based on the book. Immediate red flags and sirens go off in my head. How can they keep ruining all the books I love? Hoping with all my might that this movie adaptation would be different than the rest, I begrudgingly decided to see for myself how this story would play out on the big screen. What I got was a great cast with accurate portrayals of their respective characters but they were overshadowed by a discombobulated mess of overly extended scenes and excessive “mood creating” moments.
Told from the point of view of three women: Rachel (Emily Blunt), Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), and Megan (Haley Bennett), “The Girl on the Train” tells a story of divorcee Rachel, who tries to self medicate her depression from her divorce from her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) with alcohol and rides the train back a forth by her former seaside marital home. Doing this every day, she gains a look into the lives of her ex and his new wife Anna, as well as the seemingly perfect couple next door Megan and her husband Scott (Luke Evans). Triggered by seeing a betrayal from Megan that hits a little too close to home for her, Rachel exits the train to confront the situation and winds up blacking out, waking up the next day covered in blood, without any memory of the previous night. Since her alcoholism is pretty prevalent these days, this isn’t much of a shock for her. However in reality, this incident is much different than before: Megan is now missing and Rachel was spotted acting belligerent in the vicinity of Megan’s home and where she was last seen. Armed with the idea that she could have caused this unfortunate incident, Rachel makes it her mission to solve the puzzle and find out what exactly happened to Megan, even if she discovers that she is the perpetrator. The audience is then taken on a journey through various plot twists and shock-worthy developments, all leading to the surprising conclusion of Megan’s fate and how/if Rachel was involved.
Lead by the incomparably talented Emily Blunt, this all star cast is full of fantastic actors who all encompassed their roles so perfectly that an almost immediate immersion into the story was instant for the viewer. Along with the fantastic performances, a cloudy seaside town in New York perfectly sets the tone for the auras of depression and melancholic dread that fill the story. However, although the actors perfectly personified their novel counterparts and the story was incredibly compelling, the excessive scenes of exacerbated pauses and dreadful moments created an atmosphere that felt like the I was trying to run a marathon with 10 pound weights tied to my legs. I love when the tone of a movie can help plunge you into the story, but it can also be kind of distracting if it is taken way too far. The number of scenes that included at least 30 second intervals of Emily Blunt breathing deeply and looking distressed without any dialogue or help in furthering the plot were way too prevalent. But to give credits where credit is due, there were a lot of great things about the movie as well. If you have read the book you know that the plot goes back and forth between present day and the past, which can be confusing in and of itself, but add in the fact that the story if also told from three different female perspectives almost makes it difficult to fully grasp. The movie did such a great job of keeping the storyline straight, while also staying true to the complexity of the book. As stated before, the cast was fantastic and gelled extremely well together. If you were a fan of the book, you might not take very well to this adaptation, but if you haven’t gotten your hands on the novel yet and enjoy a good thriller, this movie will definitely be right up your alley… If only the director had pulled the reins back on the overt displays of unnecessary and distracting emotive moments, this movie would have been one of the rare successful movies based on a book in a long time. Nonetheless with some of the best plot twists leading the way, “The Girl on the Train” successfully blends the best parts of the book with the innovative minds of the cast to create an almost seamless adaptation.