‘The Girl On The Train’ Is A Wreck – And Women Will Hate It

By Will Johnson | 8:44 am, October 5, 2016

Is The Girl on the Train the new Gone Girl? Well, only in so far as it has ‘girl’ in the title and will quickly be ‘gone’ from cinemas.

The long-awaited adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ so-so- bestseller, which has so far shifted more than 11 million copies partly thanks to clever marketing off the back of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, is a grim, dreary and dispiriting cinematic experience.

With its inelegant plotting, over-reliance on narration, and thinly sketched characters, it quickly becomes apparent that director Tate Taylor (The Help) is no Alfred Hitchcock or David Fincher.

The latter successfully crafted Gone Girl into a tense and darkly funny commentary on modern marriage and post-recession middle-class malaise, aided by a career best Ben Affleck and startling performance from Rosamund Pike.

It was superbly structured and beautifully directed, ensnaring the audience in a brilliantly spun web of deception.

The Girl on the Train is a polished but soulless guessing game which posits Emily Blunt as a kind of pie-eyed Miss Marple who stumbles around a bleak suburban community trying to solve a woman’s disappearance while experiencing flashbacks which suggest she herself may have played a part in it.

It’s confusing, the tension doesn’t build and there’s not an ounce of wit or insight in its portrayal of suburban dissatisfaction.

Despite the best efforts of a roughed-up Blunt who gives a strong, committed performance, the film hits the buffers.

It’s a dud.

However, in one regard it does bare a similarity to Gone Girl, giving the lie to any notion that these female-driven thrillers – the “domestic noir” literary genre so popular with publishers – are empowering towards women.

The truth is The Girl on the Train is so politically incorrect in its portrayal of women that this generally mild-mannered, conservative viewer felt like manning a picket line at his local multiplex.

There are three female protagonists and they are all depicted as mad, cheating liars and drunks, unhinged primarily by one simple desire: to have children.

Yes, while the male characters are obsessed with sex, the women are obsessed with babies (the characterisation is that subtle).

There is blonde, voluptuous Megan (Haley Bennett) who is cheating on her husband Scott (Luke Evans) with married man Tom (Justin Theroux) because she is desperate for her own child which poor, seedless Scott is unable to give her.

A tragic incident in her past portrays her as far too grossly negligent to ever be entrusted with a child, however.

Then there is Tom’s wife Anna (Rebecca Fergusson), a horribly smug blank-eyed marriage wrecker who stole Tom from another woman – Blunt’s drunken basket case who has never recovered from being dumped.

Blimey, if you’re a woman it’s surely enough to make you reach for the bottle in despair.

At least Pike’s nut job in Gone Girl, Amy Dunne, was clever and interesting and funny, even if she was a murderous loon. The women here are merely tragic…and boring.

Still, if you’re an actress in Hollywood looking for a leading role- be prepared to play mad. Even Meryl Streep feels obliged, recently playing the titular batty opera singer Florence Foster Jenkins, while the “strongest” female character of the summer was Margot Robbie’s off-her-rocker Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad.

If you’re The Girl on the Train – you might want to get off.