Friday, 14 October 2016

Review: The Girl on the Train

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train...

Last weekend I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. Less than 48 hours later and I knew. I daren't say too much for fear of giving anything away. True to form it's a thriller packed with twists and turns, and although I predicted pretty early on what the big twist was going to be, I was gripped to see how it would play out. I finished reading at 1.30am- when a book keeps you up that late you know it's a good one! What makes this different from other thrillers is its narrative. It's told from the viewpoints of three women, all of whom are connected and none of whom are reliable narrators. Rachel, an alcoholic, takes the train every day past the homes of Anna and Megan. Then, one day, she sees something she shouldn't. A few days later Megan has gone missing and Rachel wakes up bruised and covered in blood, with no memory of what happened the night before. It's fast paced, intense, and you can't trust a single character. Compulsive reading at its best.

As for the film adaptation - I'm yet to see it but I have some reservations. I'm interested to see how they get the multiple viewpoints across without causing confusion. I had seen the trailer before I read the book, so in my mind Rachel looked like Emily Blunt and Megan looked like an actress who looks like Jennifer Lawrence but isn't Jennifer Lawrence. I do wonder how they would have looked had I been imagining them for myself, especially as having googled the rest of the cast Tom and Scott in the film look nothing like I pictured them in the book.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Film Review: Bridget Jones's Baby

It was with some trepidation that I went to see Bridget Jones's Baby. In fact, and friend and I had previously written off the idea, as it surely couldn't come close to the cosy charm of the original (I tend not to think about Edge of Reason). However, as the positive reviews poured in curiosity won out and it was time to see for myself what the writers had come up with.

I was saddened not to see Richard Curtis' name on the credits, but equally delighted to spot Emma Thompson's. Her role in the film - which she may well have written with herself in mind - as Bridget's brilliantly deadpan doctor is a great addition to an already top notch cast. Aside from Hugh Grant's conspicuous absence it's lovely to see the whole original gang back together; Bridget's trio of best friends are all in check, with husbands and children in tow, and her parents - and her auntie Una - are all thankfully still alive and kicking. 

If you've seen the trailer you'll know the plot; after a couple of drink infused one-night-stands - a festival hook-up with American love guru Jack Qwant and a one-off reunion with her ex Mark Darcy - Bridget Jones is pregnant. And doesn't know who the father is. Colin Firth is on familiar Mamma Mia territory here.

I was a little concerned about Patrick Dempsey's character on paper - an American in a quintessentially British film!? But I needn't have worried. Rather than the nice guy/bad boy dynamic that Mark and Daniel Cleaver shared, Jack is so kind, lovable even, that it's impossible to dislike him. I'd almost go as far as to say that he is actually a better man than Mark Darcy, and so I genuinely didn't know which man Bridget would end up with, if either of them.

Although the other two Bridget Jones films came out over a decade ago (let's not dwell on that), this third installment doesn't feel dated in the slightest. It's brought bang up to date with jokes about modern technology, and how the world has changed since we last saw Bridget and co. The characters themselves have grown up too. Bridget gets up to make a speech, we watch through our fingers, waiting for her to make a fool of herself, and yet miraculously she doesn't. Tension and anger mounts up between Mark and Jack, they take it outside, only for Jack to say 'I don't want to fight'. It is these breaks from the formula of the first two films that refresh the franchise completely (although a comic fight scene wouldn't have gone amiss for old time's sake!)

As for the rumours about a fourth, maybe even a fifth and sixth film, I'd say leave well alone. This film was perfect in its own way - like a one off reunion episode of your favourite TV show, but to treat it as a reboot to the Bridget Jones franchise would be a mistake. Bridget gets her happy ending, every box has been ticked, and it would fast become stale should they start churning out more films. Leave it be, please.

As the credits rolled, my sister turned to me and said that of all three Bridget Jones films, this one is her favourite. I can see why - it's more relatable to today and the humour is more current, less cringeworthy. But for me there is no movie scene more iconic than Bridget Jones chasing after Mark Darcy through snowy London in her pants. The coat, the kiss, and the final lines that look so vulgar written down, yet somehow sound breathlessly romantic on screen. 'Wait a minute, nice boys don't kiss like that...'. It's everything.

Bridget Jones's Baby is so much funnier and lovelier than I was expecting. Well worth seeing in the cinema too - that's an experience I never had with the first two films (I was too young), and you get the feeling of sharing something special. Like the first film, this will leave you smiling and feeling stupidly sentimental - job well done.