BY VAL PETSCHE
“The Girl on the Train” is a riveting murder mystery new to theaters and based on the novel by Paula Hawkins. Throughout the story, themes of lust and adultery largely command the stage, and it is the film’s skillful adaptation that allows for the audience to understand the dangers of reckless seduction.
The story is told through the narrations of three women—Rachel, Anna and Megan—though it largely centers on Rachel, a raging alcoholic. Rachel is the girl on the train, an outsider leading a dark and depressing life as monotonous as the train she rides back and forth every day.
She is imaginative, but in a dangerous way. Soon she thinks about the lives of those she passes, specifically a distraught young woman named Megan and Anna, the wife of her ex-husband.
The entirety of the plot surrounds one fateful night that Rachel, though highly intoxicated, literally falls witness to. Over time Rachel is able to recall the gruesome extent of the events that occurred, and she no longer becomes just a girl on the train.
Rachel’s narration occurs on every odd numbered chapter until 34, in which she remembers one major detail about that night and determines the suspect. At this point, we discover she is not the odd one out but rather a key player in the investigation to uncover the truth.
Hawkins’ thoughtful style of writing subjects the reader to accompany Rachel through her distraught, seemingly endless life of alcoholism. From the surface, she is a hot mess, and one the reader tends to feel pity for. Sometimes she is hard to feel bad for with her drinking problem, though. As the plot unfolds, Rachel finds her strength, and we see her emerge as a persistent character determined to prove people wrong and overcome the one person that sent her down that dark hole of depression to begin with.
The movie contains great cinematography; however, it would be greatly confusing if the book is not read beforehand. Many details go in to make this intricate story come together and thus it is important to pay close attention.
The narrative contains multiple threads with complex subject matter and an even more confusing plot. For example, the reader must follow the lives of each character, although their narrations occur at varying times and locations. Megan’s narration occurs at least a year before Rachel’s, and this becomes confusing as each chapter switches back and forth between characters.
With careful contemplation, the reader is able to piece together the various details alongside Rachel, clinging to her every thought as she experiences flashbacks.
Overall, I prefer the book over the movie. However, the film was a visually appealing piece that I enjoyed watching. Emily Blundt skillfully portrays Rachel, making her the disheveled woman I always envisioned her to be and more.
I recommend reading the book first and then following Rachel through this dramatic story that perhaps only a psychoanalyst could understand.