Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ Appears to Have Been Written on One

Rushed to the screen to capitalise on the success of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 source novel, The Girl On The Train appears to have been written on one, juddering to its destination faster than the speed of sense.

Tormented by the picture-perfect lives she glimpses during her morning commute – including her ex-husband Justin Theroux and his new wife Rebecca Ferguson – alcoholic Emily Blunt finds herself embroiled in a missing persons case when naughty nanny Hayley Bennet goes missing.

Anonymously directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), Girl has problems from the off. Transplanted to New York from London, the milieu never really convinces. The female characters, whether hot-mess, home-wrecker or hussy, are all pretty and sad; the males (including Luke Evans and Édgar Ramírez) brooding and blandly interchangeable. It’s like an alternate universe Friends: “The One Where They Move To The Suburbs And Start Boffing Each Other”, perhaps.

Although adapted by Erin Cressida Wilson, who wrote the excellent Secretary, the script is awful, with cloth-eared dialogue (“I could never find the words to describe how I felt when I read that email…” says Blunt with some difficulty) and a fondness for showing and telling us every tiny detail. “I tend to smile when I’m nervous,” says Bennet, smiling nervously. New mom Ferguson’s complaints about the trials of farmer’s markets, meanwhile, will raise titters among all but the most cosseted viewers.

Entertainingly bad to begin with – think Desperate Housewives meets Fifty Shades Of Grey – it eventually settles down into the kind of so-so pot boiler that employs someone else to boil the pots. If you’re looking for an airplane read for the eyes, it might pass muster. If not, look away now.

‘The Girl on the Train’ Movie Times