Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ is a thriller you can’t miss

Propelled by the popularity of Paula Hawkins’ best-seller, the adaptation of “The Girl on the Train” led North American theaters in ticket sales with $24.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (DreamWorks Pictures/Universal Pictures via AP)

On Oct. 7, theaters saw the release of the much-anticipated thriller “The Girl on the Train,” directed by Tate Taylor. Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins, the movie follows a missing person case that is much more tangled than it appears.

The movie takes place in the suburbs just outside New York City and follows the lives of three women: Rachel, an alcoholic and Tom’s ex-wife; Anna, Tom’s new wife; and Megan, Tom and Anna’s neighbor.

Rachel takes the train to and from New York every day, she sits in the same seat and watches the same house: Megan’s. In Rachel’s fabricated imagination, Megan and her husband Scott are everything that Rachel lost after her divorce with Tom.

Anna was the “other woman,” she was chosen by Tom over Rachel and now sees Rachel as a threat to her new family. Anna and Tom have Evie, and together they live in Rachel’s old home, constantly dealing with Rachel’s drunk calls and random visits.

Megan is new to being a wife, and after moving onto the street, she landed a job as Evie’s nanny. Her haunted past causes strain in her relationship with Scott, and she soon begins seeing her therapist in secret.

Then, Megan goes missing one night after Rachel drunkenly decides to visit Tom. The police look to Rachel for answers, but Rachel’s memory of that night have been completely obscured, making Rachel believe she was somehow involved.

Later, Megan’s body turns up, and the knots in the mystery get more tangled. Suddenly, we are forced to doubt everything we learned: who do we believe—Rachel, the drunk, Anna, the mistress, or Megan, the liar?

A race for answers begins as Rachel tries to recover her memories of that night to help find the woman she never knew. As more clues are revealed, the story takes dramatic turns until the last minutes of the film when the story comes to a shocking yet satisfying close.

The movie does a fantastic job moving fluidly between the three women’s points of view, balancing present day, during which we follow Rachel and Anna, with the past, which is the entirety of Megan’s storyline. Time jumps can be jarring if not done correctly, but the film moves at a pace that is easy to follow.

The highlight of the film is definitely the performances. Emily Blunt, known for her roles in “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Into The Woods,” captures the troubled psyche of Rachel, perfectly embodying the character from page to screen; she was consistently enthralling from the first minute to the last. Justin Theroux equally portrays the character of Tom, one of the film’s antagonists, with enough sentiment to mirror the intense character development shown in the novel.

As “The Girl on the Train” has a literary predecessor, it is natural to procure enough doubt in your mind that the movie will do any justice to the novel, but Taylor’s artistic direction with the film was extremely successful. It is rare for a movie to be as engaging as its novel counterpart, but “The Girl on the Train,” fits into that rare category, and most credit is given to Taylor, whose other notable work is “The Help,” one of the best book-to-movie adaptations the film industry has seen thus far. Now, “The Girl on the Train,” can join that esteemed group.

Rating: 9.5/10

Ryan Amato is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at