The Girl on the Train: Worth a Watch?

By Olivia Rooney

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One of 2016’s most highly anticipated movies has without a doubt been The Girl on the Train. Based on Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel, the film promised excitement and intrigue even for viewers who hadn’t read the book. The hype has made the film an impressive $79.7 million at the box office so far; however, is it worth it?

Firstly, it is important to state I have not read the book (yet!) as sometimes it is just as important to rate a film on its own merit, without comparison to the novel. A brief overview of the plot, one which contains several plot twists and ‘gasp’ moments; Rachel Watson is an alcoholic divorcee who has lost her job, and uses her divorce money to pay her rent, and ride the train in and out of Manhattan so as to make her roommate think she has a job. Played by Emily Blunt, we initially feel sympathetic towards her character, whose train journey passes the house where she lived with ex-husband Tom. He now lives with new wife Anna and baby daughter Evie; a painful journey made more tragic by the fact Rachel and Tom were unable to have their own children, even after a bout of IVF.

Two houses down on the same street live Megan and Scott Hipwell. Megan is nanny to Tom and Anna’s child. This couple distract Rachel on her daily commute to the bars and streets of the city; she imagines them to be the perfect couple with different names and personalities on different days depending on her mood. She becomes completely involved in the Hipwells lives from her seat on the train and they almost become a symbol of hope for Rachel, until she spots Megan kissing another man, leaving her inappropriately devastated and angry. It is from this point things begin to unravel for the lead role.

The overall film is done quite well. From beginning to end I found myself constantly questioning and re-questioning my own theories of what the twist was, what would happen next, and if he did this or was she really the one to watch? The structure is similar to the book in that the key characters take turns with the narration, providing a rounded view of events: this allows for alternative views to situations and increases the tension when a new character takes the narrative reigns and we see what the ‘real’ Rachel or Megan or Anna is like. This plot, as well as the structure really pay homage to the idea of never knowing what’s going on in someone else’s mind, and makes for thought provoking cinema.

Performance-wise this cast is of a high standard. The elegant Emily Blunt is faultless as a tragic drunk whose life has fallen to pieces, who abused her husband and has struggled with blackouts ever since, with one major black out being pivotal to the plot. Rebecca Ferguson and Hayley Bennett are both masterful in depicting Anna Watson and Megan Hipwell and their mixed personalities. We are never quite sure if we like these women and I liked that we were kept guessing, awaiting the dénouement to finally answer all of those uncertainties. Similarly, the main men, Justin Theroux as Tom Watson and Luke Evans as Scott Hipwell, have similar characters as the supporting females but give an equally uneasy yet rounded performance. Perhaps the film’s one downfall was that the characters all held a similar feature of holding on to secrets; be it addictions, tempers or unsettling pasts, which meant the relation of all could only ever end in disaster. However, perhaps this was intentional.

Ultimately, overall the film was enjoyable and captivating. The score and soundtrack were timed excellently to build tension, and sometimes provide light relief from a dark plot. One certainty is, whether you like it or not by the end, you will be sure to be gripped. Perhaps you get caught up in the plot and twists as I did or perhaps you figure it out early on and decide to watch just to prove yourself right. Either way this is one film you will watch until the very end.

Watch the trailer now at

Featured image source; Official Instagram of The Girl on the Train

Top right image source; Wikipedia (Distributed by Universal Pictures)


Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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