ⓘ The Girl on the Train (2016 film)
The Girl on the Train is a 2016 American mystery thriller drama film directed by Tate Taylor and written by Erin Cressida Wilson, based on British author Paula Hawkins popular 2015 debut novel of the same name. The film stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, and Lisa Kudrow. The film follows an alcoholic divorcee named Rachel who becomes involved in a missing persons investigation.
Principal photography began on November 4, 2015, in New York City. Produced by Marc Platt and DreamWorks Pictures, The Girl on the Train was the first film to be distributed by Universal Pictures as part of DreamWorks new distribution deal via the company Amblin Partners.
The film premiered in London on September 20, 2016, before it was theatrically released in the United States on October 7, 2016. The film was a box office success, grossing $173 million worldwide, but received mixed reviews. Blunts performance received praise and gained a nomination at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, as well as a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.
Rachel Watson is an alcoholic who rides a train aimlessly since losing her job and her marriage. From the train, she fixates on the lives of her former husband Tom Watson, his current wife Anna, and their neighbors Scott and Megan Hipwell, whom she idolizes. Megan worked for Tom and Anna as a nanny, but recently quit. During her marriage, Rachel became depressed about her infertility and developed a drinking problem that has resulted in continual blackouts and destructive behavior. At a barbecue held by Toms boss, she drunkenly made a scene and was blamed by Tom when he was fired. While drunk, she often harasses Tom, like calling him multiple times, though she has little or no memory of these acts once she sobers up. Once she also took Tom and Annas newborn daughter Evie out of her crib while Anna was sleeping, but then left the child on the ground when Anna discovered her.
From the train, Rachel spots Megan kissing a stranger and becomes infuriated at her. She leaves to confront Megan, but hours later she wakes up in her bed, covered in blood. Megan has disappeared, and Rachel is questioned by Detective Riley because she was seen in the vicinity that day. Rachel contacts Scott, pretending to be a friend of Megan, to tell him about the affair. Scott pulls up a picture of Megans psychiatrist Dr. Kamal Abdic, and Rachel identifies him as the man she saw kissing Megan.
As a result, Dr. Abdic is questioned as a suspect but tells the police Scott was emotionally abusive towards his wife, and suspicion shifts to him. Believing Dr. Abdic is involved in Megans disappearance, Rachel schedules an appointment with him, but she ends up discussing her own issues the infertility and the blackouts.
Dr. Abdic recalls a session with Megan in which she told him she had a baby when she was very young. The baby accidentally drowned in the bathtub and Megan never forgave herself for it.
Megan is found murdered and tests show she was pregnant, but that neither Scott nor Dr. Abdic was the father. Scott enters Rachels house and confronts her for lying to him about knowing Megan, directing the police towards Dr. Abdic, and leaving him as the new suspect. He angrily grabs her. Rachel goes to the police to report the assault, believing Scotts ready violence suggests he may have murdered Megan, but the detective says that he has been ruled out as a suspect as there is CCTV footage of him at a bar at the time.
On the train Rachel sees Martha, the wife of Toms former boss, and goes over to apologize for her behavior at the barbecue where she believes she broke a platter, threw eggs, and insulted Martha. Martha says she did nothing wrong and she was told that Rachel was sick and needed to sleep in their spare room. It turns out Tom had been fired for having sex with coworkers. Rachel realizes that Tom planted false memories in her head during her drinking binges. He was also violent toward her during her blackouts, which accounts for the injuries she had when she awoke.
Anna suspects Tom of cheating and finds a strange cell phone hidden in their house. The voicemail reveals that the phone belongs to Megan. Tom almost catches her in the act of checking the phone, and she returns to the house. Rachel goes back to the tunnel, and remembers via flashback that she caught Tom meeting Megan that day and left Megan by the car to go after her, attack her, and warn her to stay away. Rachel goes to warn Anna, and tells her Tom is dangerous and he killed Megan. Anna knows about the affair, and when Tom arrives home, both women confront him with details of his affair with Megan. Tom tries to force Rachel to drink alcohol she is recently sober, throws the drink at her face, and knocks her unconscious.
Another flashback reveals that Tom beat Megan to death when she told him she might be pregnant by him and refused to get an abortion. When Rachel awakens, she flees for the front door, but it is locked. Tom tries to strangle her as Anna watches from the top of the stairs. Rachel doubles back through the kitchen and grabs a corkscrew. She gets outside, but Tom chases her and grabs her. As she turns, she stabs him in the neck with the corkscrew. He falls; as Anna reaches him, she twists it deeper into Toms neck, killing him.
Interviewed by Detective Riley, Rachel and Anna tell identical stories about killing Tom in self-defense after he admitted that he was Megans killer. Later, a sober Rachel is walking through a cemetery. She stands in front of Megans tombstone and states "We are tied forever now, the three of us, bound forever by the story we shared." Later, she sits on the opposite side of the train, hopeful for a new life.
- Haley Bennett as Megan Hipwell, Anna and Toms nanny, and Scotts wife
- Lisa Kudrow as Martha, the wife of Toms former boss
- Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson, a lonely alcoholic, and Toms ex-wife
- Justin Theroux as Tom Watson, Rachels ex-husband, and Annas current husband
- Allison Janney as DS. Riley, a detective
- Laura Prepon as Cathy, Rachels college friend, roommate, and landlord
- Luke Evans as Scott Hipwell, Megans husband
- Darren Goldstein as Man in the Suit, a stranger who witnesses Rachels behavior
- Rebecca Ferguson as Anna Watson, a real-estate agent, and Toms current wife
- Edgar Ramirez as Dr. Kamal Abdic, Megans psychiatrist
3.1. Production Development
DreamWorks Pictures acquired the film rights to Hawkins novel and the film was planned for production by Marc E. Platt through Marc Platt Productions in March 2014. In early 2015, Erin Cressida Wilson was hired to write the script and Tate Taylor was hired to direct the film. Hawkins told The Sunday Times that the films setting would be moved from London to Westchester, New York.
3.2. Production Casting
In June 2015, Emily Blunt was offered the title role, the lonely and alcoholic divorcee Rachel. The studio had eyed Kate Mara for another of the three lead roles. In August, Rebecca Ferguson was confirmed to play Anna and Haley Bennett was added to the cast to play the third female lead role, Megan.
Jared Leto and Chris Evans were in talks to join the film, where Evans would play Tom, Rachels ex-husband, and Leto would play the neighbors husband. However, Justin Theroux replaced Evans and Luke Evans replaced Leto, who both left the film due to scheduling issues. In October, Edgar Ramirez joined the film to play Dr. Kamal Abdic, who is having an affair with the married Megan, and becomes a suspect in her disappearance. Allison Janney also joined the cast to play a police detective. The next month, Lisa Kudrow was cast as Martha, the wife of Toms former boss. Laura Prepon joined the cast as Cathy, the landlord, roommate, and college friend of Rachel Watson.
3.3. Production Post-production
During post-production on the film, a cameo appearance by Paula Hawkins was cut from the film.
In November 2015, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures scheduled the film for an October 7, 2016, release through their Touchstone Pictures banner.
The film was part of DreamWorks distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios, which began in 2009. However, DreamWorks and Disney did not renew their distribution deal, and in December 2015, Universal Pictures acquired the films distribution rights, as part of their new distribution deal with DreamWorks parent company, Amblin Partners.
Universal retained Disneys original release date. Universal also distributed overseas, except in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where distribution was handled by Mister Smith Entertainment through other film companies. Entertainment One released the film in the United Kingdom on October 5, 2016.
5.1. Reception Box office
The Girl on the Train grossed $75.4 million in the United States and Canada and $97.8 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $173.2 million, against a production budget of $45 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross around $25–30 million in its opening weekend, with some having it opening to as low as $18 million. The film was expected to play like the similarly themed Gone Girl, which opened to $37.5 million in October 2014, although that film had more star power to carry it. It went on to gross $24.5 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office. In its second weekend it grossed $12 million, finishing third at the box office.
5.2. Reception Critical response
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 45% based on 294 reviews, with an average rating of 5.31/10. The websites critical consensus reads, "Emily Blunts outstanding performance isnt enough to keep The Girl on the Train from sliding sluggishly into exploitative melodrama." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.
IGN critic Terri Schwartz gave the film a score of 5.5/10, writing: The Girl on the Train has a talented cast, but ultimately squanders it for the sake of a hollow, ponderous plot. Alternately overly convoluted and predictable, the film relies too heavily on its twists while offering little in the way of character development, leaving its three central women as unrelatable and unlikable stereotypes." Rolling Stone s Peter Travers gave the film a positive review, commenting that: "he movie gives away the game faster than the novel, but Emily Blunt digs so deep into the role of a blackout drunk and maybe murderer that she raises Girl to the level of spellbinder."
Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper gave 2 stars out 4, and said that the film is "shiny trash that begins with promise but quickly gets tripped up by its own screenplay and grows increasingly ludicrous and melodramatic, to the point where I was barely able to suppress a chuckle at some of the final scenes". Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave 1½ stars out of 4, and described the film as, "a flat and suspense-free tale of pretty people in peril".