I’m told it hews closely to the novel
For all the good it does it. Although it boasts at least two great performances from Emily Blunt and Haley Bennett, a brooding score from Danny Elfman, and slow-burn direction from Tate Taylor (“Get On Up,”) this film adaptation of the novel of the same name from Paula Hawkins suffers from too little to say and a third act that implodes in a way that makes “Gone Girl” look downright plausible.
Blunt deftly plays Rachel, a divorced alcoholic who tends to obsess over things; things like her relationship with ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux), or the lives of total strangers she spots from the train on her daily commute, like Megan (Bennett).
It doesn’t help that Megan lives just a few doors down from where Rachel used to live with Tom, who now lives in that house with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the real estate agent he purchased the house through, and with whom he was cheating on Rachel. Tom is remarried to Anna and they have a child together, a life as perfect as the one Rachel desperately wanted with Tom (if she could only have children), and no doubt a life as perfect as veritable stranger Megan has with her significant other, Scott (a menacing Luke Evans).
At least that’s what Rachel thinks, lost in a cloud of drink and depression. Even though Rachel has created a picture-perfect world for her mysterious stranger and emotional substitute, Megan has her own take on life, as well as her own secrets that she reveals only to her shrink, Dr. Kamal Abdic (Édgar Ramírez), with whom she is inappropriately involved.
But when Megan goes missing and attack dog Detective Riley (Allison Janney) is put on the case, all of these lives intertwine and unravel. In these suburbs, secrets are as plentiful as the sad, unwanted sex everyone seems to be having, and all of the central characters succumb under the unyielding microscope of a criminal investigation.
Sadly, the buildup is better than the payoff. When all the pieces finally come together with very little explanation or back-story, it’s way too much too late, feeling hasty and over the top in a silly way. But when a film has little to say other than all men are untrustworthy and violent, and women all be crazy, maybe such an ending is fitting.
Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity
Director: Tate Taylor
Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Paula Hawkins (based on the novel by)
Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramírez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney