The Girl on the Train: Film Review

"The Girl on the Train will have you questioning all."

If you haven’t yet read Paula Hawkins’ dark bestselling novel (you totally should by the way – it’s amazing), then this film follows the life of a troubled woman, burdened by alcoholism, infidelity and the breakdown of all normality in her life. Catching the train every day past her old home, clinging onto the girl she used to be, she watches her ex husband, Tom, and his new wife, Anna, from the window, constructing stories in her inebriated mind about the lives of his neighbours as she passes. 

Emily Blunt powerfully plays the role of Rachel, digging deep to portray such an unsettled and broken woman. The heavy cinematography and atmosphere created by director Tate Taylor mirrors the sombre themes set out in Hawkins book to an extent that avid fans should be proud of. As the film seamlessly rolls on, and the audience discovers the interwoven stories surrounding the death of Toms neighbour and Nanny Megan, we get a sense of discomfort that only great acting can bring. 

Justin Theroux, on the other hand, doesn’t quite do Tom’s character justice, making it hard to believe this character that, in the book, is put on such a high pedestal. This is made up for however, by Hayley Bennet, who does a fantastic job of bringing Megan’s character to life, and then death. 

What perhaps made this book and subsequent film so powerful and appealing, is the way it follows troubled and arguably weak women to delve into society’s narrow understandings of strength. It compares the strength of pain tolerance and endurance that the women in this story show, to the stereotypical masculine strengths. It portrays stark contrasts throughout, between the light and dark, the varying degrees of blurred reality, and the juxtaposition between suburban “perfection” and the secret lives they contain. 

Taylor took an incredible story that keeps you guessing and second-guessing, added strong cinematography and created an unforgettable watch. Not for the faint hearted, The Girl on the Train will have you questioning all, including the simple lives of those around you, when you next step on a train. 

- By Sam Urban

Watch the film trailer below!

Find out more about studying Film and TV Production at JMC Academy. 

Other articles you may be interested in: