BOOK TO FILM: The Girl On The Train




The Girl On The Train came into cinemas recently and as a fan of the book, like millions of others, I had to go and see the film. This discussion of the transformation of the book to the film will not contain any major spoilers, I promise!

There are a few clear differences in the adaptation. For one, the setting moves from England to America and the structure is obviously more fluid with Rachel rather than split into multiple perspectives throughout. Having said that, I don't think these alterations had any major effect on damaging/improving the story either way. They were just... different.

Instead of comparing which is better, the book or the film, I'm going to talk about what I think the adaptation did well. Books and films are good in different ways and we engage with them differently so I think a comparison is pretty useless, however when watching an adaptation there are certain things that can go well and wrong.


PROS: The acting was fantastic throughout and there were some incredibly difficult, emotional scenes in there. I felt fully engaged when watching the film in the believable actors

The cinematic techniques and directing was incredibly well done. From the close camera angles and the clever filming strategies, such as filming Meghan straight on during her psychiatric appointment as though the audience is in conversation with her, it was brilliant.

The story wasn't massively changed. When you go to see an adaptation, you expect to see an adaptation - not something that vaguely resembles the book. Especially when something is as popular as The Girl On The Train, any changes can be jarring and off-putting, so I appreciated how loyal everything was, even down to the script.

The pace and length kept me engaged throughout and I felt the story was told full, without much missing. Sometimes things get cut in the process of adaptation (books are obviously a lot longer than films) however I believe this one hit every major landmark.

There was the perfect balance of violence and psychological horror. The Girl On The Train is a very psychological novel and that element was kept in the film. While there were a few shocking images, a lot was kept hidden from sight to allow your imagination to fill in the blanks. For this story, I think that worked really well.

CONS: The casting was a little too marketing-friendly. While Rachel was as I pictured her, and the other women to be fair, the men were very strangely cast. They all played into the muscular-and-handsome trend in Hollywood in the way that they all looked too similar. Tom and Scott in particular weren't distinguishable enough which I think not only made the film appear to lack diversity, but also become less believable in it's story-telling.

There wasn't enough time spent on Dr Kamal Abdick and he was a very interesting character in the book. I know films are on a time limit to some extent but I thought there was more space for him.

There were way too many sex scenes. I think I counted five in the first 10 minutes, it was ridiculous. I'm all for a sex scene when it's used to move the story along, but some of this just seemed to be again for the marketing/Hollywood side of things and it showed.

Overall, I'd really recommend going to see The Girl On The Train. As primarily a book-lover however, I advise you to read the novel first.

Love, Jess

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