Entertainment & Arts

The Girl on the Train: Reviews round-up

Emily Blunt Image copyright EPA
Image caption Emily Blunt has starred in films including Sicario and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

The Girl on the Train, the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins' best-selling psychological thriller, has received poor reviews ahead of its release this week.

In the big-screen version of the novel, which arrives in cinemas on Wednesday, the action has moved from London to New York.

British actress Emily Blunt plays alcoholic Rachel, who gets involved in the mystery of a missing woman whom she had been observing from the train on her daily commute to Manhattan.

So what did the critics have to say?

The Guardian - Peter Bradshaw

Emily Blunt does her considerable best with this exasperating and plaintive role. In movies from The Devil Wears Prada to Sicario, she has shown that she can look good while being ill or messed up: strong, believable, human, vulnerable. But this part doesn't give her any scope for recovery, for the all-important mastery and survival: she just always looks under the weather. This doesn't give her half the juice and outrageous fun that Rosamund Pike had from Gone Girl. Fans of Paula Hawkins's thriller might find themselves sticking to the book.

Read the full review.

The Daily Telegraph - Tim Robey

Erin Cressida Wilson (script) and her director, The Help's Tate Taylor, haven't figured out how to tighten their noose: we cycle flaccidly between the three guys (Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez) trying to guess which will claim the gold medal for most thuggish misogynist.

Blunt's Rachel might be a soused and broken bit of human wreckage, but she's better than all this: there are too many moments when you wish this raddled stalker had simply been allowed to direct her own film.

Read the full review.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Taylor directed the Oscar-winning film The Help

The Radio Times - Stella Papamichael

Being faithful isn't always a virtue, especially when it comes to adapting a novel as widely read as Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train. You need to add a little something extra.

Director Tate Taylor (The Help) has created a very neat (if rather too tidy) domestic thriller, but he hasn't exploited the medium to bring anything fresh to the story, riding instead on the solid track the book provides.

An annoying, overblown finale disturbs the balance just as Rachel is beginning to come to terms with the person she has become - or always was. She reckons that, "I'm not the girl I used to be," and it's that particular jigsaw puzzle, made up of Rachel's bad choices and deepest insecurities that, however disturbing at times, draws you along on the winding journey.

Read the full review.

Daily Mail - Brian Viner

Tate Taylor's single biggest asset is Blunt. Even though we now know she was pregnant at the time of filming, the actress bears little resemblance to the overweight, puffy-faced Rachel of the book. Nonetheless, she makes a thoroughly convincing drunk, a self-loathing shell of the woman we can just about imagine her once to have been.

But you have to care about such a pivotal character in a film, or at least about somebody. Here, just about everyone is either messed up, brutish, smarmy, selfish, over-sexed, or all of the above, so that by the time The Girl On The Train eventually gets to its destination, you wish either that it had taken a different route, or that you hadn't bothered to go along for the ride.

Read the full review.

NME - Nick Levine

Director Tate Taylor, who previously adapted Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help into a hit film, brings Hawkins' mystery to life hauntingly with flashbacks and constant shifts back and forward in time. Snobs will probably call The Girl On The Train a popcorn potboiler, but it's a gripping and smart-looking one which keeps us guessing how and why Megan went missing: though Rachel is even more troubled than she initially seems, Megan's husband Scott (The Hobbit's Luke Evans) and psychiatrist Kamal (Zero Dark Thirty's Edgar Ramirez) also have credible motives for wanting rid of her. But the film is driven by Blunt's powerful central performance.

Read the full review.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Paula Hawkins and Emily Blunt posing on the red carpet at the world premiere.

Variety - Owen Gleiberman

Emily Blunt excels as the broken-down heroine of Paula Hawkins' bestseller: a fragmented thriller soap opera of sex, booze, violence, and post-feminist empathy.

The Girl on the Train is sexy, brutal, diary-of-a-mad-housewife trash made with a distinctive creamy classy empathy.

Blunt, who plays half her scenes looking like she's holding back tears (or maybe screams), is a luminous actress who's been in need of a role that allows her to get past her slight decorousness, and this is that role. It should, at last, elevate her star.

The Girl on the Train gets less convincing as it goes along - the climax... is borderline camp - yet the movie has just enough intrigue, and has been made with enough craft, to disguise (for a while) the late-night cable-thriller mechanics it ultimately succumbs to.

Read the full review.

Hollywood Reporter - Todd McCarthy

A morose, grim and intensely one-dimensional thriller about an alcoholic's struggle to make sense of a close-to-home murder as well as her own mind, this major fall release from Universal can count on a panting public to pack multiplexes upon its October 7 opening. But this train may hit a yellow commercial light sooner than expected down the line.

The lone creative element to command coercive interest here is Elfman's score, which employs sonic currents of tonal irregularities, pulsations and mood instigators rather than melodies, typical tension tropes or any of his trademark gambits from the Tim Burton collaborations. He almost makes the film seem good from time to time.

Read the full review.

Total Film - James Mottram

While transposing the action from London to New York's outskirts doesn't jar as much as some readers feared, what does distract is Taylor's direction. The biggest sticking point? A key scene set in a tunnel, where repeated use of slow motion feels like an amateurish attempt to replicate the workings of a befuddled mind.

Fortunately, Blunt keeps the film anchored. Playing drunk convincingly is no mean feat, but she cracks it, maintaining our sympathy for a character who has gradually slipped towards becoming a functioning alcoholic. Looking blotchy and unsteady on her feet, she never plays it for laughs but with an air of desperation, as if solving this mystery may be her last chance. But this year's Gone Girl? Not a chance.

Read the full review.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hayley Bennett plays Megan in The Girl on the Train

Empire - Jonathan Pile

A typical thriller in its set-up, the film also has the added depths of Rachel's alcoholism (and the misery that can bring) to tackle, which director Tate Taylor does with unflinching honesty. Although her blackouts are also used as a plot device, there to serve the mystery by positioning her as an unreliable narrator. Still, it's the thriller aspect that most lets the film down, failing to truly engage or offer enough plausible red herrings to send your mind whirring through different theories as to what could have happened. The twists rarely, if ever, have the impact that were intended.

At the centre of this is Emily Blunt, who despite the recognisable cast around her, is rarely off screen. She's a fine actress, but obviously miscast here. It's not her fault particularly - she simply fails to adequately escape her star power to believably portray such a damaged character.

Read the full review.

Time magazine - Stephanie Zacharek

Blunt gives Rachel multiple dimensions - we could never view her as just a stewy mess. But the movie's surprise (or perhaps not-so-surprising) twist doesn't serve its lead character well, at best merely justifying her stalkerish behaviour. The revenge she ultimately wreaks is supposed to be grim and sweet, but it comes off more as a plot calculation than something you feel in your gut. For a supposedly dark thriller, The Girl on the Train is just so damn reasonable. Rachel, drunk and sad and fiercely jealous, is allowed to be just a little bit bad. But not nearly bad enough.

Read the full review.

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