The Girl on the Train: Book or Film?

Over the past couple weeks, I charged through reading The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins and finally made it to the theater yesterday. Now I’m ready to compare them.

When I first began the book, I was a little surprised to find it written as journal entries by the main female characters. It can be difficult adding a lot of environmental descriptors with this technique, but as I got into the story it didn’t seem to matter. After I finished it, I see how writing from the first person was also used to disguise the plot twist. It won’t go down in history as the greatest piece of literature, but it was enjoyable and that’s one of the main needs a book must fulfill. If you’re already sick of hearing about it (which then why are you reading this?) just wait and it’s fifteen minutes will fizzle out.  Let’s see if Paula Hawkins can do it again.

My favorite part of the film was Emily Blunt. She did play a very convincing drunk. I think I am a little less in love with the movie, because they changed the setting to the U.S. much like in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie, another moving book that takes place in Britain, but is switched stateside in the film adaptation. I also think Tom lacked character development. In the book, they talk a lot about their past relationship. In the film, you don’t see the true extent of his gaslighting and narcissistic personality. Even in the final kitchen confrontation, the acting is empty. It feels like a run through before they turn the cameras on. Okay, I’ll do this, then you do that, I’ll take the baby, but don’t look like you’re just handing it to me… Ugh, so choreographed and no raw tension at all. This is supposed to be the height of it. Rachel is sober and feeling every second on this without the familiar numbness of alcohol. We should be feeling it too!

My recommendation is to read the book. Save the film version for date night, when you might not really be paying attention by the end of the movie.


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