As expected, there are some discrepancies between “Girl on the Train,” the movie directed by Tate Taylor, and the novel written by Paula Hawkins. While fans of the book might have a difficult time with some of the artistic changes, “Girl on the Train” was successfully adapted into a feature film. The live-action thriller enthralls the audience and makes people root for one of the most unlikeable characters.
Warning: The following points contain spoilers.
Location: Right off the bat, one of the biggest differences is that the film takes place in a suburb of New Jersey. Rachel, who is played by Emily Blunt, takes the Metro-North train into Manhattan for “work.” In the book, however, the characters live in England.
Rachel’s Drinking: While Rachel would probably drink anything; her standbys are wine and gin and tonics. In the film, she mostly drinks vodka.
Sequence of Events: Most of the scenes are out of order with the book. Hawkins goes back and forth through time with her characters, and the movie presented some of the scenes at different times. For example, Rachel files a statement with police in the very beginning of the book, but in the film it doesn’t happen until the end.
Rachel’s Obsessions: Part of this comes down to not being able to translate a character’s emotions on the screen, but Rachel’s preoccupation with ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) his new wife, Anna (Rachel Ferguson), and the murdered neighbor Megan (Hayley Bennett) is much more apparent in the book.
Rachel’s Characterization: Hawkins makes it hard for readers to like Rachel. She’s an alcoholic who has no control over her life and entangles herself in a missing persons case. In the film, however, her drinking doesn’t incapacitate her. While she can be vile at times, she is much more powerful in the film.
Rachel as a Murder Suspect: Filmmakers might have wanted to change aspects of Rachel to make her more likely to be a murder suspect. While it seems possible she could have killed Megan in the book, the film practically places the smoking gun in her hand. She talks about smashing Megan's head, which is something that never happens in the novel.
Sex Scenes: One of the most important sexual encounters Megan has is cut from the film. The lust for the men she craves does not translate on to the silver screen. The tryst Rachel has with Scott (Luke Evans) was also eliminated.
Dr. Kamal Abdic: Since Rachel is made to look like the person who murdered Megan in the film, Kamal plays the part of a caring friend who helps Megan, instead of the psychiatrist who slept with his client and tries to make things right. There’s little reason for the audience to believe he might be Megan’s killer in the film, while Hawkins paints it as viable possibility.
Anna’s Hatred of Rachel: Anna often calls Rachel “fat” and “ugly” in the book. But these hurtful words, which Anna says to Rachel’s face, are left out of the movie. Even after Anna discovers Tom cheated with Megan, she still thinks she's better than “her” (Rachel).
The Ending: The ending of the film is true to the book, though this is why the drink of choice for Rachel is important: At the end, she kills Tom by jamming a corkscrew into his neck. She literally and figuratively screwed him-- just the way he screwed other women when they were married. The poetic justice might have been more powerful for audiences who didn’t read the book if she drank wine throughout the film instead of vodka.
“Girl on the Train” premiered in theaters nationwide Friday, Oct. 7.
Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella