Tate Taylor tries so hard to be the next Gone Girl that he forgets to direct a compelling mystery
Paula Hawkins must be tired of the Gone Girl comparison by now, but Tate Taylor doesn’t do her any justice with the big screen adaptation. The comparisons are there; however, there are differences between both books. Hawkins wrote three central female characters trying to get their life back on track, and while there are some elements in this wearisome thriller, there’s just not enough.
At first, we meet Rachel (Emily Blunt) who is a sad individual spending her time making up stories about the people whom she passes every day by train. She sees Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), her ex-husband’s new wife and Meghan (Haley Bennett), their nanny. Apart from Blunt, the biggest problem of Train is that none of the characters on screen are worth rooting for. They all fall into stereotypes such as the “whore,” the housewife and the abusive husband. Even Blunt is sometimes defined by her drinking problem alone which dilutes her character.
When Meghan finally goes missing, the lives of the three women are about to change. Except that the film keeps adding scenes that should be pivotal to the movie but aren’t. All they do is further the movie from its central storyline. Taylor fails to build up certain key elements and in results leaves certain plot points feeling unnecessary. Scenes that should have a greater impact are given the short end of the stick. It shows Taylor’s inability to judge what should be in the movie and what shouldn’t be in it, leaving the audience a bit confused.
Certainly, Blunt is the best part of this train wreck. She gives a compelling performance as the girl who’s life is a mess. Every time the movie strips away from Blunt, The Girl On The Train becomes that less interesting. The other women could’ve been compelling as well, but Taylor never gives them anything other than their defining trait to work with. At least, Blunt is given something more than her drunk facade. This way, the audience is capable of sympathizing with her in a way that doesn’t feel forced.
Nevertheless, even that becomes stripped away eventually as the movie keeps going. Melodramatic elements become more apparent and result in less dramatic scenes. By the end, the movie turns into a mystery that would be better suited on Lifetime or the Women’s Channel, which is a shame. When Taylor finally reveals his true intentions, The Girl On The Train‘s mystery is completely gone, feeling forced and out place. The reveal isn’t so much of a “wow factor” than it is an “okay factor.”
Tate Taylor’s poor direction is mostly to blame here. The movie relies too heavily on the performances of its characters and to give the film credit, they do a good job. However, it’s the movie around them that fails to rise to their level. If you’re looking for a fun mystery, try Hawkins’ novel or Fincher’s Gone Girl, because The Girl On The Train certainly won’t be your train ticket.