THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was the perfect book to read on the beach, I think four of us passed it around in Cabo and all enjoyed it as a "Gone Girl"-like thriller in which you can't quite trust the protagonist as a storyteller.
Those same mysteries translate well to the screen in the 2016 screen version starring Emily Blunt as our girl on the train, Rachel.
Depressed, fueled by vodka and living an empty daily routine, Rachel takes the train back and forth to Manhattan everyday. Still pretending to work at a job long since lost, Rachel fantasizes about the lives of the people inside the houses she passes each day.
One specific street is her obsession.
One home is the one in which she used to live, where her ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux) now lives with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and their baby girl.
Rachel shows classic signs of obsession with hundreds of late night calls to her ex and intrusions into their home, some of those visits escalating into threatening behavior.
The house two doors down demands almost equal attention. It's where Tom and Anna's nanny Megan lives with her husband Scott (Luke Evans). To Rachel's eyes everyday in the passing train, Megan & Scott are the perfect, sexy couple, in the perfect relationship she wishes she had.
One morning as Rachel passes their house, she sees Megan on the balcony in the embrace of another man and Rachel's anger explodes. She leaves the train at the next station and in a blind, alcoholic rage........well, what DOES happen next?
All that is certain is that Megan has disappeared without a trace.
The film cleverly builds on the book's structure by not only flashing between the couples, but also popping back and forth in time, locking in one piece of the puzzle at a time.
It's safe to say that the view from the train is not the only thing that isn't quite what it seems.
Edgar Ramirez is terrific as psychiatrist Dr. Abdic and Allison Janney is excellent as Detective Riley, who's convinced that Rachel is more than a bit unhinged.
Emily Blunt is very good as Rachel, showing every arc of alcoholism and the effects of physical and verbal abuse in a marriage. She's matched by Haley Bennett as Megan. Bennett was terrific in last year's "The Magnificent Seven" remake and plays the polar opposite modern young woman here. Megan is very damaged and Bennett is hypnotic.
As the film entered its last half hour and the complicated pieces begin to fall into place, the film has a terrific modern-Hitchcock feel, down to the final coda in the police station and beyond.
Critics were brutal on the film, but we really enjoyed it. If you loved the book as we did (and everyone seemed to read it summer before last) it differs enough to keep you on your toes, but translates the best moments to the screen.
The first half detailing Rachel's battles with alcoholism are much more powerful on screen than on the page, with Rachel doing very little to help her case as a suspect or a person.
Like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you aren't quite sure what you see as you roll past the homes, but discovering what's really going on inside them makes for an enjoyable, adult mystery.
The Girl gets a B.