I first heard about Paula Hawkins' book, The Girl on the Train, when I caught the end of an interview with the author on the radio, driving home from work. The concept of the story struck me as a brilliantly simple idea on which to base a novel – a commuter who takes the same train morning and evening, witnesses something shocking happening in one of the gardens backing onto the train tracks.
It was a couple of months ago that I finally got around to reading the book, and I was gripped. So when I saw the trailer I was excited to see how it would play out in the cinema. I was not disappointed.
Director Tate Taylor has moved the action from the outskirts of London described in Hawkins' book, to New York State; the eponymous Girl (Rachel, played superbly by Emily Blunt) travelling into Grand Central Station every day, instead of London Euston. As with all film adaptations, there are also a lot of other differences between novel and film. But in this instance, everything works beautifully. While the novel distinctly shifts between narrations from the three main female characters, the film focuses more closely on Rachel than the dual focus of her attention – Megan (Haley Bennett) and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), although it does effortlessly switch between the three. Blunt is mesmerising in her performance as the alcoholic Rachel as her character, and the situation, spirals out of control. Blunt is surrounded by a well-chosen cast (the male contingent includes Luke Evans and Justin Theroux) but it was Rachel that I couldn't tear my eyes away from.
With themes of obsession and grief and with a surfeit of strong female characters (Allison Hanney's performance as Detective Riley is also notably brilliant) the source material has been astutely adapted by screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary); it moves along quickly while allowing the audience to drink in every detail. Add in the strong score by Danny Elfman and the changes in narrative and shifts in time and you have a well-constructed, pacy thriller. Although it's dividing critics, I would say that it's definitely worth a watch.