Making a film adaptation of a popular mystery novel is tricky business. One of the most entertaining elements of the genre is the big "whodunit" reveal -- but the fact that so many people read the book before the movie was made means that there is already a big section of the audience that already knows how things turn out. This was something very much on the mind of director Tate Taylor in the making of The Girl On The Train, but it led him to an important decision: that he doesn't really mind if people already know the ending before they go to see the movie.
I had the pleasure of recently talking on the phone with Tate Taylor, and my first question out the gate was about the security of the central mystery and the use of both hints and red herrings throughout the narrative. The director explained his approach in this regard, noting that he constructed the film so that its characters and themes would be just as engrossing as the mystery of The Girl On The Train, allowing the movie to still work even if you go in already knowing how it all plays out. Said Taylor,
I realized when so many people know what's going to happen, because they've read the book, or perhaps they've heard what happens... because you know, the day we live in, there's no secrets. What attracted me most to the material is that I realized that first and foremost I need to really, really portray these three complicated women in a very detailed, blunt, true, shocking, sexual, violent fashion - and if you're engrossed in them, not so much you're going to be distracted from the thriller aspect of this, it's just going to be a true rival of that.
While it wasn't discussed in the interview, it's worth mentioning that this approach really strengthens the longevity and rewatchability of The Girl On The Train. If the movie entirely hangs on the ending and doesn't have anything interesting to offer beyond it, nobody is ever going to buy it on home video or ever feel the desire to give it another watch.
Further explaining his philosophy in this matter, Tate Taylor continued by adding that the casting of Emily Blunt wound up being quite vital to the making of The Girl On The Train. After all, she is a complete and total mess, but the actor makes her one that the audience ultimately cares about and wants to see get better. Or as the director put it,
You root for her; you kind of care about her. It's weird. That's why Emily was cast and is perfect. You just kind of want to grab her, kidnap her, put her in a strait jacket, take her to a cabin in the woods, throw water in her face and say, 'Get it together! Stop it! Stop fucking up!'
With The Girl On The Train coming out this week, the internet will surely be a-buzz with spoilers about the film -- so hopefully these comments from Tate Taylor will calm those who are worried about the movie being ruined for them. There's still a fun, entertaining movie with great performances to be seen.