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Film Review: The Girl on the Train

13th October 2016

img_0301-660x880The TripFiction film review of the book “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

Can a film ever do justice to a book? Read on….

the girl on the train

It’s been a long time coming, with much anticipation. A book with huge backing has been hitting the top reads in many lists for a while now. It was probably inevitable that it would be made into a film after all the hype.

Yet, quite a difficult book to convert to a visual format as there are slightly different timelines and threads that all build to the final denouement. I was therefore quite curious to see how that would be tackled, massively apprehensive from the start about the major shift of locale – from the South London rail lines to the Metro-North Hudson line into New York State City. You might remember the line from the film “Falling in Love” with Meryl Streep and Robert de Niro. Apparently the author Paula Hawkins didn’t mind the change of locale as she was more interested in the universal themes of loneliness, addiction and control (or lack of it).

It is an accurate translation of the book, how often do you hear that being said? Emily Blunt made for a good heroine, as though she had walked straight off the pages of the thriller. And the other actors all personified the characters as outlined in the written word. At times interchangeable and wooden, as though observed through the lens of an alcoholic, the alcoholic’s reduced ability to understand nuanced behaviour in others.

I came out feeling at the end just as I had felt when I read the book, a good but improbable plot, wonderfully capturing the boundaryless behaviour of alcohol addiction and how that foible can be exploited by savvy and controlling people to their own ends.

Untermeyer Fountain In Central Park

The Untermeyer Fountain

Locale – which of course is our thing – is gorgeous. The houses that line the railway lines of this scenic journey into Manhattan, overlook the bucolic scenery near to water. There’s Grand Central Station (with a cameo appearance by Paula Hawkins) which is as wonderful as ever and Rachel spends time sketching at the Untermeyer Fountain in Central Park; I for one will make an effort to visit the fountain on my next trip to NYC. At the end a much brighter Rachel pops up in the very recognisable New Calvay Cemetery, to which author Tom Connolly introduced us recently in his featured piece in our blogpost  Men Like Air. The cemetery, and its views back over Manhattan, is definitely one of the highlights if you are scheduling a trip to the city!

So, did the film lose anything by not being set in London? No, I don’t think it did, which I am surprised to find myself saying…

It is a very watchable film, bloody at the end, far fetched, but beautifully portrays the rail line into the city, which “carries” the story. And apart from a change in setting, this is actually the visual version of the written word.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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