'The Girl on the Train' is story of female empowerment, says star Emily Blunt

'I feel like this film represents women's right to be bad and flawed and wrong and messed up,' actress Blunt says. 'I think women around the world are going to applaud that.'

Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures/AP
'The Girl on the Train' stars Emily Blunt (r.) and Justin Theroux (l.).

It's a thriller, a whodunit, a story of loneliness, alcoholism, and voyeurism. But "The Girl on the Train," the movie version of the best-selling novel, is also a tale of female empowerment, the filmmakers say.

After selling 15 million copies worldwide since its 2015 release, Paula Hawkins' story of murder, betrayal, and emotional abuse gets a dark twist in the movie that is now in theaters.

Emily Blunt plays Rachel Watson, an alcoholic who has lost her job and her marriage and who spies from the train on her cheating ex-husband (Justin Theroux) and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Rachel turns amateur detective when another woman with disturbing secrets, Megan (Haley Bennett), goes missing and turns up dead.

"I feel like this film represents women's right to be bad and flawed and wrong and messed up. I think women around the world are going to applaud that," Blunt said.

"Yes, (the women) are pitted against each other in the beginning but yet they do ultimately unite, and they are real," she added.

All three women are subject to jealousy, controlling behavior, and gaslighting – the term for psychological abuse that makes a victim doubt his or her sanity.

Some previews have had women in the audience cheering at the end as the female characters wreak their revenge.

The movie opens during domestic violence awareness month in the United States and the National Network to End Domestic Violence has produced discussion questions that highlight themes of abuse in the book.

Director Tate Taylor said he would be glad if the film empowers women. "I didn't intend, on an intellectual level, for it to be a revenge film, but it has struck a nerve."

Taylor, who also directed the female-centric movie "The Help," attributes his empathy with women to his upbringing.

"I was raised by a single mom. She was pretty much my primary caregiver... So I had a lot of female energy and I saw a lot of struggle, a lot of determination and a lot of success. I equate women with being survivors because of my mom," he said.

Taylor and Blunt said the movie was deliberately darker than the book.

"We agreed that we were really going to reveal the underbelly of domestic life in all its darkness," said Blunt. "It's incredibly brutal to watch at times and unsettling, and I am thrilled that even for lovers of the book, it still shocks."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.