Is Girl on the Train Really the Next Gone Girl?

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The two novels have been compared since inception, how do the movies fair?

Since it first hit bookstores in January 2015, “The Girl on the Train” has been hailed as the next Gone Girl. From a marketing standpoint, it is a comparison that probably enticed a lot of readers. “Gone Girl” was a novel from Gillian Flynn, that became one of the best selling titles of 2012, leading to a highly acclaimed feature film from director David Fincher. Both novels have sold through the roof and now The Girl on the Train is arriving in theaters. The novels might give off a similar vibe, but how do these two stories compare based on their film adaptations?

Universal Pictures choose Tate Taylor to bring the acclaimed Girl on the Train to the big screen. Taylor, best known for directing The Help and Get on Up, will hopefully to a good job adapting the material. 20th Century Fox spared no expense with hiring David Fincher to direct Gone Girl. Fincher has numerous classic films on his resume including The Social Network, Zodiac, and Se7en. No offense to Tate Taylor, but it is obvious which studio was willing to spend more to bring their adaptation to life.

Winner: Gone Girl

There is no denying the ability of Emily Blunt. From her starring roles in Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow, she has frequently showed her talent and is arguably one of the better actresses working in Hollywood today. The question lies more if she is a good fit to play the lead, Rachel Watson. “Girl on the Train” author Paula Hawkins was among the many who thought Blunt was too pretty for the role. Blunt is supposed to be depicting an overweight divorcee with alcohol abuse problems. This is a case of Hollywood needing a known name to sell the picture and even if Blunt owns the role, there will be debates over the casting choice for sometime.

The opposite effect happened for Fincher’s Gone Girl, Rosamund Pike. She had steady work throughout her career, best known for supporting roles in Jack Reacher and Pride & Prejudice. For all intents and purposes, she was an unknown element going into the picture. From the text, to the screen Rosamund Pike was Amy Dunne through and through. It was a case of perfect casting and drew plenty of attention towards Pike, including an Oscar nomination for her performance. The argument can be made that Amazing Amy is a far more intriguing character than Rachel Watson, but even if then this was a career defining performance.

Winner: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

The story of Girl on the Train calls for two supporting men, in this case played by Justin Theroux and Luke Evans. Theroux plays Rachel Watson’s ex-husband, who is beyond tired of Rachel interfering with his new wife and family. Evans plays Scott Hipwell, husband of Megan Hipwell who is the missing woman in this story. There is nothing inherently wrong with either casting choice: Theroux has credits in American Psycho and Mulholland Dr, while Evans was in Fast & Furious 6 and can be seen playing Gaston in the new Beauty & the Beast adaptation. Just neither of them are standouts that sell the picture.

David Fincher was allowed to be selective on his choice for Amy Dunne because he had Ben Affleck to sell the picture. Excitement was big the role because Affleck had last appeared, for all intents and purposes, in the best picture winner Argo. He seemed all too perfect for the role of a man who has grown tired of his wife and was having other relations on the side. Other actors that rounded out the cast included Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry, splashy choices that were made because they best fit the parts.

Winner: Gone Girl

The Girl on the Train features the same idea of Gone Girl of an untrustworthy narrator, this time with three different women. The lead, Rachel Watson, is an alcoholic and occasionally blacks out due to her heavy drinking. She commutes to work by train and passes the time by gazing out the window. She sees the same couple outside everyday living their peaceful lives. Rachel develops personas for them and fake names, making up a story for the couple. When she learns that the woman from that couple is missing, she believes that she has the answer for the mystery. “The Girl on the Train” doesn’t do anything new for the mystery genre, but it is an engaging read. Whether or not the adaptation works for the screen is another issue entirely.

Gone Girl takes what was written on the page and makes it better on the screen. The story of Nick Dunne coming home and discovering his wife missing leaves a lot to be desired at first. Nick is painted as the scapegoat for his missing wife and Amy is depicted as a loving, naive wife.Gone Girl” surprised quite a few readers with its ability of deception, but I’d say it was equally as engaging as “The Girl on the Train.” Certainly Gone Girl might be a more significant novel to the genre, but both stories are well worth enjoying.

Winner: Tie

From the directors, leading ladies, and supporting men it is obvious that Gone Girl is the stronger film. While both stories offer their own set of surprises and killer moments, 20th Century Fox put together a better all-around production for Gone Girl. While the novels will continue to be compared, it would seem Girl on the Train is no Gone Girl. Nothing is going to get in Amazing Amy’s way.

News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.