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A Lackluster Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ Business

I often wonder what happens behind closed doors in Hollywood to turn a book into a film adaptation. Is it truly about who you know and how much cash you have? Is that what happened with ...

I often wonder what happens behind closed doors in Hollywood to turn a book into a film adaptation. Is it truly about who you know and how much cash you have? Is that what happened with Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train?

The main character, Rachel Watson, is a creepy, alcoholic rubberneck in the book. I don’t like her. I’m irritated basically the entire time that she can’t remember the night she blacked out and Megan died (spoiler alert). She is immature and frustrating beyond words. My O No She Didn’t! moment is when she booked a session with Megan’s therapist and lover. Rachel is a train wreck (pun intended).

After I read the book all the way to its anticlimactic end, I streamed the movie as soon as I could, hoping the story could be redeemed somehow.

On page 282, it finally got interesting but the problem with that is there are only 323 pages. I went through the whole book waiting for something to happen and when it finally did, it felt cheap. I felt like I waited in line to eat at the hippest restaurant to find out they can’t cook a steak properly. Maybe it’s because my time isn’t free? Or that I expected more from Hawkins after so much popularity? I read a review that Hawkins’ narrative is shallow — I now agree. I was grasping for more substance and it just never came.

When you come out of the gates with a lackluster story like this one, is it the intention to make the movie even better? Because, unfortunately, that’s not what happened here. In the film, Rachel is more rational and pretty. Now, I have nothing against Emily Blunt but I was expecting a physically swollen, ruddy-faced alcoholic. We also don’t see the addict’s internal struggle like we do in the book (the only redeeming part for Hawkins). In fact, we don’t see much of anything.

After I read the book all the way to its anticlimactic end, I streamed the movie as soon as I could, hoping the story could be redeemed somehow. But it wasn’t. Great actresses like Allison Janney (who plays the detective) and Blunt can’t carry a shitty film no matter how good they are. I understand the Hollywood process is about managing risk but what I don’t understand is why so many people were behind this story in the first place.

My recommendation is to read and watch Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and forget this Girl On the Train business.

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