The Girl on the Train is a novel that kind of jumped up on the world, especially with the unbelievable success of the book and movie versions of Gone Girl. Since then, this sub-genre of Domestic Noir has exploded and it seems that every novel that can be compared to Gone Girl has been optioned for a film: this, and Renee Knight's Disclaimer had the film rights purchased before the novels were even released to the public! It's a bandwagon that needs to stop, because I cannot understand how this movie could've been so disappointing and poor as it is.
As an Englishman, the film's location shift did aggravate me a lot. It's one of those things that changes nothing but everything at the same time; the train system in London is a very different one to New York, where it's more underground based. But that's a setting thing, doesn't affect the movie as a whole. What does affect the movie is how viciously, and how insufferably BORING IT IS! Seriously, this film treats everything like its the most binal and uninteresting thing, in which all the characters talk in flat and monotone voices, and the fact that screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson has removed so much of the kinks and human error from it. Add to this is that most of the characters are completely flat, with almost no backstory - the only real "backstories" being had by Megan and Rachel, more of those in a second - and this makes everything SO hard to sit through, or barely care when stuff happens. Tate Taylor, who made the excellent The Help some years ago, and directed his actors in that with such confidence and zest, makes me wonder why this movie is so lifeless, and why he struggled to direct his actors in this with any human qualities to them. It's like he is trying to out-Gone Girl Gone Girl, but the problem with that is that David Fincher is clearly more adept at darker material; the way Fincher accentuates moments of extreme pivotal violence, like Amy's murder of Desi, or gives a clear indication of where/when stuff is happening, or made the only real monster of the movie Gone Girl Amy, and made the others human but just flawed in some way. Everyone here is just nasty, in some way, but in such unremarkable ways - or ways that are made to feel unremarkable, such as Rachel inserting herself into Scott Hipwell's life after his wife is murdered.
OK, Rachel's backstory is quickly glossed over; she was unable to conceive, so she began her spiral into alcoholism. That's it for her, and Emily Blunt, who is at her best when portraying characters being slowly broken down by life, does her best, but as stated, there's really no humanity to Rachel, so alas is all blowing into the wind. Megan, played by Haley Bennett, is by far the most tragic character, and that is because we can see how irreparably damaged she is from the death of a baby she conceived at a young age, to the point where she ends up in the situation that gets her killed. And Anna? Yeah, she's just there, she does nothing short of providing a good ending for Rachel, but all of her vindictive attitude is removed from the book, and so Rebecca Ferguson looks completely lost and is easily the weakest of the 3 main characters. Luke Evans tries, but is stumped by the absurd amount of sex scenes him and Bennett are involved with and an absence of character beyond that. And Justin Theroux as Tom is just a nasty guy; now, in the novel he's a nasty guy, but he was a nasty guy with a past, and in this he has no past.
Really, in the end, Blunt and Bennett tried. Thumbs up for that. This movie however is just jumping on the Gone Girl bandwagon, but not taking the effort or care that movie took with its material. Just...just read the book.
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