Rachel Watson, devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.
'The Girl on the Train' is based on Paula Hawkin's bestselling novel of the same name which has sold more than an eye-popping fifteen million copies so far, and continues to sit prominently on the 'New York Times' best seller list. The novel has a particularly strong following amongst women of all ages, and the story is still fresh in the mind of many readers having only been release 20 months ago. For a debut author no less, the success has been astonishing. The book has now been on the best seller list for 80 or so weeks, and has sat on number one across all formats – hardcover, paperback, and e-book. There has also been a special edition printed as a tie-in for the movie, with continued strong sales expected. That’s one tough act to follow. Engrossed readers can be spotted everywhere – on public transport, cafés, parks, you name it.
The film has a strong cast of young stars, including Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez and Allison Janney. It is directed by the critically acclaimed Tate Taylor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture on another book to screen adaptation of the 'The Help' (2011). His latest film, 'Get on Up' (2014), a biopic on the late James Brown, was also well reviewed by pundits despite weak box office sales. Just to throw another spanner in the works, the film came together in record time to take advantage of the momentum behind the book. Filming began before the entire cast was confirmed. If there was a person that can live up to lofty expectations of a broad of enthusiastic fans under a pressure cooker environment, this director certainly had a great shot.
Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Emily Blunt, director Tate Taylor and author Paula Hawkins attempted to take a selfie in the Twitter mirror at movie premiere at London
'The Girl on the Train' is a sinister psychological thriller that has been is an exercise in gripping suspense by little known author Paula Hawkins, with many comparing her ability to captivate the audience to the grand master of genre, Alfred Hitchcock. The story is set in London and centered around Rachel (played by Emily Blunt, best known as the lead in 'The Devil Wears Prada'), a 30-something alcoholic divorcee who tries to use the bottle to drown out her sorrows and self-pity. Her drinking has taken a toll on her life, with her career and personal life continuing to spiral downwards. Her marriage broke down after her ex-husband Tom (Justin Therox) left her for his pregnant lover. To add insult to injury, the new couple is now happily residing in Rachel and Tom’s former family home.
Even though Rachel is now unemployed, she continues to make her daily commute to the City to help cling to some semblance of stability. Rachel’s train passes right by her old house, as the garden backs right up to the train tracks. She creates her own a dreamy voyeuristic world about people in her old neighborhood, concocting personas and romantic backstories to those she sees through the train window. This fairytale takes a deep, dark turn when there is a murder in the neighborhood, and Rachel is drawn in as a potential witness.
Here is where the mastery of the storytelling begins. We are shown the intersecting development of events through the perspective of three different women. Rachel, Anna (played by Swedish actress Rebecca Fergusan who was nominated for a Golden Globe), and Megan (Haley Bennett) are all flawed narrators with their own skeletons in their closets. These twists in the sub-stories behind each of the main characters continue to unfold, one dark underbelly after another. The audience is kept on edge as reality and make-believe is morphed due to Rachel’s jumbled memory.
Justin Theroux and Emily Blunt on set of 'The girl on the train'
Tate Taylor does a good job of weaving the multitude of timelines, perspectives and intertwining story lines for the audience, without causing too much confusion. He was able to convey much of the eerie, sexy sense of mystery and suspense from the novel, keeping the audience enticed and engaged to the end. Even those who had read the book would be impressed by the moody visuals he creates. Emily Blunt is very believable as the alcoholic Rachel, personifying the character’s jumbled sadness, and her two co-leads also shone. Overall, this was one of the better screen adaptations, and Mr. Taylor continues to build his reputation as a great story teller, particularly for female-centric stories. As an aside, look for Paula Hawkin's cameo as an extra on the train.
Cast and Credits
Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson, Rebecca Fergusan as Anna, Haley Bennett as Megan, Justin Therox as Tom, Luke Evans as Scott, Lisa Kudrow as Monica, Allison Janney as Detective Sgt. Riley, Édgar Ramírez as Dr. Kamal Abdic, Laura Prepon as Cathy, Ross Gibby as David, Lana Young as Doctor, Frank Anello as Field Reporter
Director: Tate Taylor
Writing credits: Paula Hawkins (novel), Erin Cressida Wilson (adaptation)
DreamWorks Pictures and Marc Platt Productions co-produced the film. The latter had acquired the rights to the movie long before the novel became an overnight sensation. The movie adaptation came together very quickly. Erin Cressida Wilson was hired in January 2015, to write the script for the film. DreamWorks hired Tate Taylor to direct the film in May 2015. Emily Blunt was offered the lead role in June 2015, with Rebecca Fergusan and Haley Bennett cast to play her two co-leads in August of that year. Justin Theroux (better known as the newlywed Mr Jennifer Aniston) was cast in October as the male lead to play Tom, having replaced Chris Evans who had a scheduling conflict. The other key cast members came on board shortly after (some after filming began).
Whilst the film was set in London, filming began in November 2015 in New York City as well as other New York locations, including White Plains, Hastings-on-Hudson and Irvington. Filming was completed on 30 January 2016. Universal Pictures acquired the distribution rights for 'The Girl on the Train' in December 2015, as part of their new distribution deal with DreamWork's parent, Amblin Partners. The film is set to be concurrently released in US and UK theatres on 6 October 2016. Universal will also distribute to overseas markets with the exception of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where distribution will be handled by Mister Smith Entertainment. Entertainment One will distribute the film in the United Kingdom.