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The Girl on the Train (2016 film)

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on The Train.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tate Taylor
Produced by
Screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson
Based on The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Edited by
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
Running time
112 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[2]
Box office $173.2 million[3]

The Girl on the Train is a 2016 American mystery thriller drama film directed by Tate Taylor and written by Erin Cressida Wilson, based on Paula Hawkins' 2015 debut novel of the same name. The film stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, and Lisa Kudrow, and follows an alcoholic divorcée who becomes involved in a missing persons investigation.

Principal photography began on November 4, 2015, in New York City. Produced by Marc Platt and DreamWorks Pictures, The Girl on the Train was the first DreamWorks Pictures film to be distributed by Universal Pictures, as part of DreamWorks' new distribution deal via Amblin Partners.[4] It premiered in London on September 20, 2016 and was theatrically released in the United States on October 7, 2016.[5] The film was a box office success, grossing $173 million worldwide, and received mixed reviews, although Blunt's performance received praise and gained a nomination at the 23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as a nomination for BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.


Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic who shares an apartment with her friend Cathy (Laura Prepon) and spends her days commuting aimlessly on a train after losing her job. From the train she observes the activities of her former husband, Tom Watson (Justin Theroux), his new wife, Anna Watson (Rebecca Ferguson), and a couple who live nearby, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), whom she sees as the ideal couple.[6]

During her marriage, having failed to become pregnant, Rachel became prone to alcohol-induced blackouts during which she engaged in self-destructive and violent behavior, including an occasion where she caused a scene at the home of her husband's boss and his wife Martha (Lisa Kudrow), leading to Tom being fired. She continues to watch Tom, Anna, and their newborn daughter Evie, causing both Tom and Anna to warn her off. Unknown to her, Megan has been working as a nanny for Anna, but has suddenly resigned.[7]

During one train journey, Rachel spots Megan kissing a stranger on her balcony and becomes infuriated by what she perceives as Megan ruining her "perfect" marriage. After a drinking binge, Rachel leaves the train to confront Megan, only to black out and awaken hours later at her apartment, injured.[7] Rachel later learns that Megan is missing, and is questioned by Detective Sergeant Riley (Allison Janney), who suspects Rachel might be involved due to her recent erratic behavior and her presence in the neighborhood on the evening of Megan's disappearance. Rachel suspects a fellow-passenger (Darren Goldstein) of following her off the train and sees him in flashbacks to that evening but cannot piece her memories together.

Hearing that Scott is asking the public to help him find his wife, Rachel goes to see him, pretending to be a friend of Megan's, and tells him about Megan's affair.[6] From a photograph, she identifies Dr Kamal Abdic (Édgar Ramírez), Megan's psychiatrist, as the man on the balcony. It gradually becomes apparent that Scott is aggressive and controlling, while Megan was prone to dishonesty and sex addiction, feared becoming pregnant, and had frequent therapy sessions with Abdic. In one of her last sessions, she tells him that she had a baby girl when in her teens, whom she accidentally drowned in the bath.

Believing Abdic to be the key to Megan's disappearance, Rachel schedules an appointment with him, revealing the history of her marriage and alcoholism. Later, at a bar, she recognizes the man who followed her from the train, and confronts him. He claims to have found Rachel lying in a tunnel on his route home; he tried to help her up, but she rejected his help. Rachel returns to the tunnel and recalls seeing Megan shouting at her before she was injured.

Meanwhile, Anna becomes suspicious of Tom after Sgt. Riley suggests that he is encouraging Rachel's behavior by keeping in touch with her. Anna attempts to hack into Tom's computer, and in the process she finds a secret phone with several voice messages to another woman with whom Tom is having an affair.

Megan is found dead and forensics determine she was pregnant, but the child was neither Scott's nor Abdic's. Scott confronts Rachel, in the process revealing that he assaulted Megan prior to her death. Rachel sees Martha on the train and apologizes for her previous behavior, but her memory of the occasion does not match Martha's version; Martha tells her that Tom was fired for having sexual relations with co-workers. Rachel realizes that Tom planted false memories in her head on several occasions following a drinking binge.

Anna finds out that Tom was exchanging phone calls with Megan. Rachel realizes that Megan had confided in Abdic about her pregnancy, leading to their encounter on the balcony. After leaving the train that day, Rachel caught Tom meeting Megan and shouted at her, mistaking her for Anna. Tom attacked Rachel before returning to Megan, who told him about the baby and refused to get an abortion. Fearing that their affair would be exposed, Tom murdered Megan.

Rachel goes to Tom's house to warn Anna, who reveals that she already knows about the affair. Tom arrives and Rachel confronts him. As Tom and Rachel argue, Anna reveals that she had found Megan's phone. Tom then carries Evie out of the room; a fearful Anna pleads for him to give her the baby while Rachel tries to dial 911. Tom knocks Rachel unconscious; when she comes round, Tom threatens her again, trying to suggest that Rachel is responsible for his actions. He tries to strangle her, watched by Anna from the top of the stairs. Rachel runs from the house, grabbing a corkscrew on her way out. Tom catches up with her in the garden, and she stabs him in the neck with the corkscrew as Anna watches from the window. Anna arrives and pushes the corkscrew deeper into Tom's neck, killing him.

Rachel and Anna are both arrested, and separately confirm to the police that Rachel killed Tom in self-defense, after he revealed himself to be Megan's killer. Anna tells the skeptical detective that Rachel was right about everything.

One month later, a sobered-up Rachel is commuting to her new job on the same train. She now sits on the opposite side in a different car, leaving her old neighborhood in the past.


  • Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson, a lonely alcoholic and Tom's ex-wife
  • Rebecca Ferguson as Anna Watson, a real estate agent and Tom's wife
  • Haley Bennett as Megan Hipwell, Scott's wife
  • Justin Theroux as Tom Watson, Rachel's ex-husband and Anna's husband
  • Luke Evans as Scott Hipwell, Megan's husband
  • Allison Janney as DS. Riley, a detective
  • Édgar Ramírez as Dr. Kamal Abdic, Megan's psychiatrist
  • Lisa Kudrow as Martha, the wife of Tom's former boss
  • Laura Prepon as Cathy, Rachel's college friend, roommate and landlord
  • Darren Goldstein as Man in the Suit, a stranger who witnesses Rachel's behavior


On March 24, 2014, DreamWorks Pictures acquired the film rights to Hawkins' novel and the film was planned for production by Marc E. Platt (through Marc Platt Productions).[8] On January 13, 2015, Erin Cressida Wilson was hired to write the script for the film.[9] On May 21, 2015, DreamWorks hired Tate Taylor to direct the film.[10] On June 4, 2015, TheWrap reported that Emily Blunt was offered for the title role, the lonely and alcoholic divorcee Rachel.[11] The studio had eyed Kate Mara for another of the three lead roles.[11] In July 2015, Hawkins told The Sunday Times that the film's setting would be moved from London to Westchester, New York.[12] On August 18, 2015, confirmed that Rebecca Ferguson was cast in the film to play Anna, one of three roles, along with Blunt.[13] On August 24, 2015, Haley Bennett was added to the cast to play the third female lead role, Megan.[14]

On September 21, 2015, it was reported that Jared Leto and Chris Evans were in talks to join the film, where Evans would play Tom, Rachel's ex-husband, and Leto would play the neighbor's husband.[15] On October 22, 2015, Édgar Ramírez joined the film to play Dr. Kamal Abdic, who is in an affair with the married Megan, and becomes a suspect in her disappearance.[16] On October 27, 2015, Justin Theroux was cast in the film to play Tom, replacing Evans, who left the film due to a scheduling conflict.[17] On October 28, 2015, Variety reported that Allison Janney had joined the film's cast to play a police detective.[18] On November 3, 2015, Lisa Kudrow was cast in the film to play Martha, the wife of Tom's former boss.[19] On November 4, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Luke Evans had replaced Leto, who left the film due to a scheduling issue.[20] On January 7, 2016, it was announced that Laura Prepon had joined the cast as Cathy, the landlord, roommate, and college friend of Rachel Watson.[21]


A view of an ornate structure with railroad tracks and a modern elevated platform and metallic structure in the foreground
The Ardsley-on-Hudson Metro-North station, used for several scenes in the film

Principal photography on the film began on November 4, 2015, in New York City.[22][23] In late November 2015, filming also took place in White Plains,[24] as well as in Hastings-on-Hudson and Irvington, New York.[25] Filming wrapped up on January 30, 2016.[26]


During post-production on the film, a cameo appearance by Paula Hawkins was cut from the film.[27]


In November 2015, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures scheduled the film for an October 7, 2016, release through their Touchstone Pictures banner.[28][29][30] The film was part of DreamWorks' distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios, which began in 2009. However, DreamWorks and Disney did not renew their distribution deal, and in December 2015, Universal Pictures acquired the film's distribution rights, as part of their new distribution deal with DreamWorks' parent company, Amblin Partners.[31] Universal retained Disney's original release date.[5] Universal also distributed overseas, except in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where distribution was handled by Mister Smith Entertainment through other film companies.[29] Entertainment One released the film in the United Kingdom on October 5, 2016.[1]


Box office

The Girl on the Train grossed $75.4 million in the United States and Canada and $97.8 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $173.2 million, against a production budget of $45 million.[3]

In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross around $25–30 million in its opening weekend, with some having it opening to as low as $18 million. The film was expected to play like the similarly-themed Gone Girl, which opened to $37.5 million in October 2014, although that film had more star power to carry it.[32][33] It went on to gross $24.5 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office.[34] In its second weekend it grossed $12 million, finishing third at the box office.[35]

Critical response

The Girl on the Train received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 43% based on 240 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Emily Blunt's outstanding performance isn't enough to keep The Girl on the Train from sliding sluggishly into exploitative melodrama."[36] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[37] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[38]

IGN critic Terri Schwartz gave the film a score of 5.5/10, writing: "The Girl on the Train has a talented cast, but ultimately squanders it for the sake of a hollow, ponderous plot. Alternately overly convoluted and predictable, the film relies too heavily on its twists while offering little in the way of character development, leaving its three central women as unrelatable and unlikable stereotypes."[39] Chicago Sun-Times' Richard Roeper gave 2 stars out 4, and said that the film is "shiny trash that begins with promise but quickly gets tripped up by its own screenplay and grows increasingly ludicrous and melodramatic, to the point where I was barely able to suppress a chuckle at some of the final scenes".[40] Christy Lemire of gave 1½ stars out of 4, and described the film as, "a flat and suspense-free tale of pretty people in peril".[41]

Rolling Stone's Peter Travers gave the film a positive review, commenting that: "[T]he movie gives away the game faster than the novel, but Emily Blunt digs so deep into the role of a blackout drunk and maybe murderer that she raises Girl to the level of spellbinder."[42]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
British Academy Film Awards February 12, 2017 Best Actress in a Leading Role Emily Blunt Nominated [43]
Hollywood Film Awards November 6, 2016 Hollywood Producer Award Marc Platt (also for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and La La Land) Won [44]
Location Managers Guild Awards April 8, 2017 Outstanding Film Commission Award New York State Governor's Office of Motion Picture Development Nominated [45]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild February 19, 2017 Feature-Length Motion Picture – Contemporary Hair Styling Alan D'Angerio Nominated [46]
People's Choice Awards January 18, 2017 Favorite Thriller Movie The Girl on the Train Won [47]
Saturn Awards June 28, 2017 Best Thriller Film The Girl on the Train Nominated [48]
Best Actress Emily Blunt Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 29, 2017 Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Emily Blunt Nominated [49]


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