I'm a little bit confused.
“The Girl On The Train” is one of the past year's big stories in publishing, and legitimately earned it. Paula Hawkins may have caught some attention up front when people started calling her book “the next 'Gone Girl,'” but she's crafted something that is not a knock-off or just someone cashing in on a trend. It's a smart, carefully crafted thriller that is character driven and stays clever right to the end, and I think thematically, it has something to say about the way we're living right now.
For those who haven't read it, I want to avoid giving much of anything away. It's the story of Rachel, a woman in her early 30s who is hurting from a divorce two years ago. She's got a wicked drinking problem and a weird habit: she likes to ride the train to and from London, imagining the lives of a couple she sees at a particular house at a particular slowdown on that particular line. What her connection is to that couple and that house is unclear at first, but when the woman from the house shows up on the news as missing, Rachel finds herself drawn to figure out what happened for reasons that become more and more disturbing the more Hawkins reveals about Rachel and her past.
In some ways, the book is about the way we romanticize the lives of other people, something that's only become more pronounced in the age of social media. The truth is often far more problematic and difficult when you get close to it, and the book makes that point beautifully while also simply working as a good solid mystery. Rachel is a hell of a good character, and Emily Blunt is great casting as the lead.
They've started shooting, as was evidenced by an Instagram today from Katie Couric, of all people:
So here's my first question… did they move the entire thing to New York? Because the book takes place in England, and that's certainly part of the character of the book. New York could still work because it's a train based culture for commuters, but it's still surprising. I haven't read the script by Erin Cressida Wilson, but I can't imagine director Tate Taylor having taken his previous adaptation “The Help” and transplanting it to France, let's say. The book is a huge hit, and it's not like American studios are exactly shy about hiring English actors, so why the change?
There's been a lot of last minute schedule shuffling on this one as they've nailed down the cast, and I like the combination they ended up with. Blunt will be joined by Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow, Justin Theroux, and now Luke Evans, who was one of the highlights of “High-Rise” for me when I saw it at Toronto. I think Evans is a really interesting actor who is overdue the right role in the right film, and this could easily be that moment for him.
Still, the New York thing is a strange choice, and it make me curious to see what this team is doing to this book. Seems like a no-brainer as an adaptation, but how many times have we seen something simple screwed up? Here's hoping they do this one justice.
“The Girl On The Train” arrives in US theaters on October 7, 2016.