'Girl on the Train' Is About Flawed Women & That's Why It's So Good -- & So Necessary

Girl on the Train Emily Blunt

A troubled alcoholic (Emily Blunt), an adulterous wife (Haley Bennett), and an anxious new mother (Rebecca Ferguson) don't sound like a trio of women you'd champion, but in the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins's 2015 thriller The Girl on the Train, you're rooting for each of them. The project was put in the capable hands of Tate Taylor, who directed The Help and Get On Up, and audiences find themselves empathizing with all three of these flawed ladies as their lives intertwine thanks to Tom Watson (Justin Theroux), who straddles the line between sweet and sinister.


CafeMom spoke to some of the cast during a roundtable interview and both Taylor and Blunt said they were thrilled to bring these complicated women to the screen. They agreed it's time for Hollywood to embrace female leads that are far more than just one-dimensional, pretty faces. Blunt said she believes this film should convince studio heads that there's an audience just waiting for this type of heroine:

So, I do feel the tides are turning. I don't think it's sort of tsunami-like yet. I think that it's going to continue. But, we're moving in the right direction. And I really hope that films like this one prove that women do not have to be likeable and witty and sort of supportive and all of those rather boring things, in order to be bankable. 

And so, I hope that we continue in this direction. We can continue to talk about it, but we can actually do more. I do believe we need to support a lot more female screenwriters because they ultimately will write better roles for women, be more sensitive to writing better roles for women.

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Rachel, Blunt's character, is far from a boring trope: In a despair-filled drunken stupor over the dissolution of her marriage, Rachel fantasizes about a couple she watches from the window of her commuter train (pictured below). But when she spies the wife, Megan (Bennett), embracing a man (Edgar Ramirez) who is not her husband, Rachel's filled with rage as her fantasy of the "perfect couple" collapses before her bloodshot eyes. 

girl on the Train

When Megan goes missing, Rachel believes she knows something about the blonde beauty's disappearance, but her drinking makes it all but impossible for her to remember what she witnessed -- or, worse, did.

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With chapped lips and dirty fingernails, the usually glamorous Blunt inhabits Rachel's skin seamlessly and makes her far more empathetic than the character seemed to be in the original novel. Part of Rachel's anguish stems from the fact that she and her ex were unable to conceive a child. When he moves on with his new wife, they become parents to a beautiful daughter, Evie -- whom Rachel can also see from her train window.

Blunt, who was expecting her second daughter with husband John Krasinkski at the time of filming, said that she truly felt for her character:

Well, I found such empathy with the character, and I know a couple of friends who have tried desperately, and it's all they think about, is being a mother and being unable to be a mother, and what that does to you. And I think when you become a mother, certainly for me, my heart has just been completely cracked open. And anything to do with being a mother or children is just, I weep instantly, you know?

Laura Prepon (Orange Is the New Black) portrays Rachel's fed-up roommate, who attempts to convince her it's time to pull her life together. But Rachel is plagued by blurry flashbacks and the need for the truth, so she inserts herself into the mystery at the cost of her dignity and safety.

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Without giving too much away, we'll say that the film follows the unexpected twists and turns of the book deftly. Though the movie is set in Westchester County, New York, rather than London, Taylor does an exquisite job of bringing the story to life and getting all the details right.

Fans of the book and the film Gone Girl will relish the chance to watch these complex characters unfold on screen, thanks to the talented cast.

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As if The Girl on the Train needs any additional endorsement, the book garnered high praise from the ultimate master of thrills, Stephen King:

Just wait 'til he sees the film, which opens in theaters Friday, Oct. 7.


Images via Universal Pictures

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