Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Girl on the Train: Review Depot


Off the rails. De-railed. Takes the wrong turn, speeds off in the wrong direction. Misses the station. Woe is me. The reviews for The Girl on the Train are in and it looks as though the move from London to New York—which I have groused and grouched about—is the least of the complaints. 


But look, as much as I loved it, The Girl on the Train was never Literature. It was a fast, fun read, not unlike the guilty pleasure the review in the Boston Globe calls the film. While I’ve reached the point where the whole idea behind this blog—following favorite books on their journey to the big screen—seems thankless (so many failures!) I’m not giving up. In fact, while Emily Blunt does seem miscast as Rachel, and I hate the relocation, I give director Tate Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson credit for trying to wrangle a novel written in alternating and unreliable viewpoints into one credible whole. The movie opens tomorrow and while I mostly try to avoid reading reviews before I’ve seen a movie, these headlines were unavoidable. I’ve rounded up a few of the critics thoughts and parked ’em here at the review depot. Cuz when the title of the movie is The Girl on the Train, we are allowed to speed into punny station.


The New York Times
A boozy Emily Blunt never winks.
With a troika of dubious female narrators, the book isn’t an obvious choice for the big screen, partly because of its rotating first-person voices. One problem is how to get into those separate heads, which the director Tate Taylor has tried to solve with voice-overs and by piling on close-ups, creating a proximity approaching the dermatological.


The Boston Globe 
‘The Girl on the Train’ goes entertainingly off the rails
Who hasn’t wondered about what happens in the houses we race by on trains? They back onto the tracks, undesirable as real estate but fertile canvases for our imagination, glimpses into other families and other lives, alternate planets of domestic possibility. Like Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” but seen on the fly.“The Girl on the Train” takes this idea and runs in the wrong direction, with trashy, enjoyable results. 

The Chicago Tribune
Thriller starring Emily Blunt flies off the tracks
Let's be Blunt.
Emily Blunt is an excellent and wily actress. In "The Girl on the Train" she's persuasive enough, both in angsty, raging extremis and in wary voyeur mode, to play a sort of shell game with her own messed-up movie. Look over here! I've figured out how to make this plot device behave like a real person!

RogerEbert.com
They don’t go in for flashy, click-bait headlines.
Rachel’s behavior seemed sad in its clingy desperation in the book, and the fact that she was grasping at wisps of her own alcohol-addled memory for clues made her a sympathetic figure. But in the movie, everything happens so quickly that her actions merely come off as bizarre and unintentionally funny. A couple of instances of her running through the woods prompted giggles during the screening I attended, when Taylor probably was going for thrills and suspense.
You get the gist? To be honest, I’m seeing it tomorrow and hoping it will be a ton of fun. I’m not expecting deep thoughts on life, alcoholism, infidelity or a reflection on woman’s lot. I’m not expecting to leave the theater with a lot to think about. All I want is a movie as fast moving as a bullet train.

Off track: My hope is that if the movie does fail to live up to its Gone Girl aspirations, it also strikes a death knell on the whole "the Girl" trend. Girl, you are a Woman now. Let’s have book and movie titles that reflect that.

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