The Girl On the Train Review: Parineeti Chopra Film Makes A Sincere Effort To Thrill, But Expectedly Derails
I am a certified bookworm. But I also love movies and shows a lot. I’ve seen myself transition from saying “The book is always better than the movie” to understanding why that actually is. Books naturally have a lot of words and space and narrative tools to offer you a prolonged insight into everything. Films are bound by runtimes and genre limitations. And then there are some books that just aren’t made to be adapted. Personally, I think Paula Hawkins 2015 novel, The Girl On The Train, is one of those. And yet, it has been adapted not once but twice—a Hollywood version in 2016 starring Emily Blunt and most recently, a Bollywood one starring Parineeti Chopra and directed by Ribhu Dasgupta.
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I think the lukewarm response to the Tate Taylor film should’ve been a big enough stop signal to not board this train. Hawkins’ novel made for such cold, bland, and drab transition to screen, it put the London weather to shame. It was too cerebral in that a lot was happening in the protagonist’s head and the rest of it, as she unravelled the mystery of what happened, was a very unexciting process. And yet, because it was Emily Blunt of all people, she managed to walk out of it with SAG and BAFTA nominations.
Clearly, Parineeti Chopra had big shoes to fill. So did the rest of the cast, which included Avinash Tiwary, Kirti Kulhari, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shamaun Ahmed, Tota Roy Chowdhary and Natasha Benton. In the Hollywood version, they were played by Justin Theroux, Allison Janney, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Édgar Ramirez and Rebecca Ferguson, respectively, along with Lisa Kudrow.
So where did this train that was supposed to, if not overtake, at least run parallel with the original, derail? Ah, but let me tell you.
What’s The Girl On The Train about?
The Girl On The Train begins with a song sequence at a wedding. Which at first, I was mad about, because really, that is so Bollywood to ruin a gritty thriller with a peppy song. But I realised it serves a purpose to give us a montage of Mira Kapoor’s happy past life. How she, a lawyer, met Shekhar, a cardiologist, fell in love, got married, got a house, got pregnant and then lost the baby.
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Now, Mira is a drunkard with an eternally washed out smokey eye look, and perpetually drunk. She was driven to alcohol after losing her child, and with her drunken aggressive antics, causing her husband to get fired from him job too. But Shekhar, having cheated on Mira and divorced her, is married again to Anjali. While Mira just rides the train from her ramshackle apartment to nowhere in particular, just so she can stare from her window seat at her old life and house.
But she is also looking at and obsessed with the house next door to her old home, where a dainty and beautiful girl lives with her husband. Not knowing anything about her, Mira gets obsessed with this girl’s perfect life, and uses it as a daydream escape from her miserable existence. But when she one day sees the girl with a man who is not her husband, her alleged ‘cheating’ reminds Mira of what Shekhar did to her. And she decides to warn this girl to get her life in order.
Drunk Mira follows her into a forrest, blacks out. Next morning, girl is missing, presumed dead. Mira wakes up covered in blood and a bad head wound. And absolutely no recollection of what happened. Now a determined cop is on her case, and Mira has to find out what happened, with all the odds stacked against her.
Also Read: 5 Thoughts I Had About Parineeti Chopra’s The Girl On The Train Trailer. Can It Intrigue Those Riding The Train A Second Time?
How and why The Girl On The Train derails?
Naturally, there isn’t much to say about the story. But the plot (yes, they are two different things), did it really have to be non-linear? The story starts in a sort of flashback and then suddenly the narration begins and then Nusrat is already dead, and then suddenly she is not and we are going back in time again. Honestly, this wasn’t needed. It just felt tedious failed to keep me hooked.
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Now, I really like Parineeti Chopra, having enjoyed her performances in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, Ishaqzaade and Hasee Toh Phasee. And you can see she makes sincere effort to embody this deeply messed up character, something I was excited to see her do because she is almost always doing these chirpy, gregarious girl roles. But it just didn’t click into place. It could be her narration, which felt very listless, or it could be that she didn’t have good dialogues or scenes to emote. But if you thought the Emily Blunt film was boring, Bollywood’s The Girl On The Train is worse.
And some of the dialogues were indeed very lazy. It felt like people weren’t reacting appropriately to the situation and people before them. Everything fell flat and thanda. The characters in this story are committing crimes of passion, have aggression issues, and have a lot of pent-up emotions. But on the surface, it was all frigid.
Even the way Mira unravels what really happened is so disengaging, that by the time you come to the big reveal, you don’t exactly care. Because neither the people who wrote it or made it felt like they cared about it, you know?
The train halted at a final station that I did not expect!
I’ll admit, I found it amusing why the makers were doing the whole ‘No spoilers’ request on social media. Isn’t the secret been out since six years now? We all know who the killer is. But actually, The Girl On The Train has a nice little surprise ending that those who’ve read the book and watched the Hollywood adaptation might not have anticipated.
It did make me go “Ooooooh so that’s how they spun this!” And I actually do appreciate them for pulling this off. But once that momentary surprise wore off, my mind kept thinking of all the loopholes of how that couldn’t really have worked. Moreover, the original ending made for a very dramatic climax which actually was the best part of the English version for me. So taking that out of the equation just made the ending very meh.
This is probably one of the shortest reviews I have written. Because honestly, while I do think this The Girl On The Train has plenty of issues (from its visuals to its plot to its need to add songs and bad dialogues), I still think the game is rigged against anyone who tries to make this movie. It’s just that drab.
Which is why, all the points I give this film are for Ribhu Dasgupta and team’s attempt to salvage the situation by changing tracks from the original map. And of course, Parineeti Chopra and Aditi Rao Hydari’s performances, which were the only things I stayed to watch, in the hopes that they’d stayed with me. However, none of their sincerest efforts were enough to keep my interest for the listless film on track.
The Girl On The Train is boarding now on Netflix.