Another brilliantly dark psychological thriller has been adapted for the big screen, and The Girl on the Train has lived up to its popularity as a novel, working excellently in film form. The build-up and reveal of the plot is very well done, and it keeps all the best elements of the book. Except, it’s set in America.

The girl of the title is alcoholic divorcee Rachel, a woman struggling to move on from her husband Tom marrying his mistress, and moving her into Rachel’s old, dream home. When another woman who lives two doors down from her ex-husband goes missing, Rachel finds herself getting involved, and she can’t remember where she was that night.

“Rachel herself doesn’t change nationality, and is played brilliantly by Emily Blunt, but all of the rest of the cast have alternative, ‘Americanised’ stories”

It’s a brilliantly crafted psychological thriller in both novel and film format, and I did genuinely enjoy it, but I was confused as to why the story had been transplanted from London to NYC. Don’t get me wrong, the USA is great, but the change in setting felt completely unnecessary, and it does make me wonder about the Hollywood mind-set that apparently means films must be set in America for its citizens to be able to relate.

Rachel herself doesn’t change nationality, and is played brilliantly by Emily Blunt, but all of the rest of the cast have alternative, ‘Americanised’ stories. It was an interesting choice made by the film’s creators, and possibly one agreed to with the purchasing of the film rights, but seems fairly redundant, since no major elements of the story change with the location switch (except perhaps the size of the houses and gardens along the railway tracks…).

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Admittedly, other than that the adaptation is very well done, not missing the large chunks of information that films often do when transferring from novel to script. Although the revealing of some titbits of knowledge occurred slightly sooner on the timeline in the movie version, those who had not read the books would have been oblivious, as the film in no way felt rushed or incomplete.

“There’s not much more I can say without introducing spoilers into the mix, but the dramatic climax was perfectly paced”

The acting was brilliant by all of the main characters, particularly Blunt, and the editing portrayed the workings of Rachel, Megan, and Anna’s minds amazingly well, staying true to its source material. There’s not much more I can say without introducing spoilers into the mix, but the dramatic climax was perfectly paced, shocking and haunting, and was ultimately pulled off superbly on-screen.

Verdict: If you’re a fan of intense psychological thrillers, and/or enjoy trying to figure out ‘who-dunnit’, this is the film for you. Dark, forceful, and subtly exploring the psychology of multiple characters, The Girl on the Train is an excellent addition to its genre.

Isobel Sheene

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