By Lindsey Mutz
The Girl on the Train, a mystery thriller about a murder investigation, was released in theaters in October 2016. It is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Paula Hawkins and was number one on the New York Times Bestsellers List in 2015. The film adaptation stars Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson, an unemployed alcoholic who becomes involved in a missing persons investigation of Megan, a woman living down the street from Rachel’s ex husband, Tom. While the movie didn’t stray too far from the narrative told in the book, there were a few key differences in the film version of The Girl on the Train.
Take for instance, the setting. In the book, Rachel rides the train into London every day, whereas in the film, she rides from the suburbs of New Jersey into Manhattan. This small difference also sets up the change in Rachel’s drink of choice—in a London setting, she prefers gin and tonic, but in the United States, she drinks mostly vodka.
There is also one subplot in particular that is omitted in the film: Rachel’s affair with Scott, husband of Megan, the woman who has gone missing. In the book, Rachel visits Scott several times and ends up sleeping with him, while in the movie, Rachel and Scott interact, but their relationship never becomes romantic.
The character of Tom’s new wife, Anna, is also more difficult to understand in the film version. In the novel, we get a lot of Anna’s perspective, as Hawkins fleshes out her character and gives us reason to understand Anna’s hatred of Rachel. In the movie, this characterization is attempted, but ultimately falls flat. And, with a narrative represented by three different perspectives, sometimes Anna’s arc got lost in Rachel and Megan’s more obvious conflicts. This minimized the link between the three women, which comes across stronger in the book.
That being said, the movie version of The Girl on the Train adhered to most of the plot points and main narrative arcs presented in the novel, which made it a successful, suspenseful, and gripping adaptation.