compare and contrast

16 Key Changes Between The Girl on the Train Book and Movie

Film Title: The Girl on the Train
Justin Theroux, up to no good. Photo: Barry Wetcher/STORYTELLER DISTRIBUTION CO., LLC

From its very first trailerit was clear that The Girl on the Train movie would be doing something slightly different from Paula Hawkins’s best-selling novel. For instance, instead of taking place in the drab suburbs of London, the film takes place in the slightly glossier suburbs of New York City — a decision that was made for thematic as well as financial reasons. (Don’t worry, Emily Blunt is still British.) But, as in every screen adaptation, the movie also departs from the narrative tracks laid down by the original in countless other subtle ways. Well, not countless ways. We’ve counted them, and it turns out there are 16.

(Spoilers for The Girl on the Train below!)

1. Rachel’s alcoholism
Book: Rachel is a sad and lonely alcoholic who drinks gin and tonic in a can.
Movie: Rachel is a sad and lonely alcoholic who drinks vodka out of a water bottle.

2. Rachel’s roommate 
Book: Cathy is a bit of a wet blanket who lets Rachel walk all over her, until Rachel’s alcholism proves impossible to ignore.
Movie: Cathy is played by Laura Prepon, which automatically makes her 30 percent cooler. She’s also way more assertive than her book counterpart: She talks to Rachel about blackouts, gets mad when she finds out Rachel lost her job, and her threats to kick Rachel out carry a lot more weight.

3. What Rachel’s doing the night of the disappearance
Book: Rachel goes to her ex’s neighborhood, because she’s upset about noticing Megan kissing another guy.
Movie: Rachel goes to her ex’s neighborhood because she’s upset about noticing Megan kissing another guy, but only after she’s delivered an aggressive monologue about how she wants to grab Megan’s head and bash it on the floor. (After the revelations at the end of the film, this scene makes no sense.)

4. Rachel’s sleuthing
Book: Rachel finds purpose in solving the mystery of Megan’s disappearance, becoming a very bumbling sleuth.
Movie: Rachel doesn’t really have a choice about her involvement in the case: Right after Megan’s disappearance, Detective Riley (Allison Janney) confronts her about her activities the night of the disappearance and also, in one scene, seems like she’s trying to sleep with her? Rachel spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out if she did it or not.

5. Scott and Rachel’s relationship
Book: Rachel and Megan’s husband, Scott, develop an emotional bond over the course of the novel. Rachel meets Scott’s mom, tells Scott about her alcoholism, and tells him that Tom is her ex-husband. Also they have sex!
Movie: They don’t have sex, though we do get a sneaky close-up of Luke Evans’s lower abs.

6. Scott’s abuse
Book: Scott reads Megan’s emails. After learning that she’s had an affair he throws her against a wall, choking her. After he confronts Rachel about her lies, he physically drags her into a room in his house and locks her up.
Movie: Megan doesn’t confess her affair, but when she returns from a tryst, Scott sees her and lunges after her. His confrontation with Rachel takes place at her house, and though it seems like he’s on the brink of hurting her, it doesn’t go very far.

7. Megan’s baby
Book: After her disappearance, the story of Megan’s baby spurs another round of headlines. In the end, Megan’s ashes are scattered beside her baby’s grave in the woods. Whatever she did, she’s been punished enough, Rachel thinks.
Movie: We hear the story of the baby’s death, but that’s about it.

8. The redheaded man
Book: After working up the nerve to talk to him — this takes a few hundred pages — Rachel finally does so and learns a big clue: Tom was with a mysterious woman the night Rachel blacked out.
Movie: When Rachel confronts him in a bar, he tells her basically nothing. A literal red hair-ing!

9. Tom and Rachel’s relationship
Book: Tom seems like he might be an understanding, if exasperated, guy, and the two ex-spouses interact a lot over the course of the book: Tom tells Rachel he drove around looking for her the night of the disappearance, he offers her money, and tells her to stay away from Scott. There’s also a memory about his using money he should be saving for IVF to pay for a guys’ trip to Vegas, which is an early sign he’s no good.
Movie: Tom and Rachel have a few run-ins, but he’s pretty secondary, and he never seems particularly empathetic or sympathetic to her.

10. Tom’s lies
Book: Tom lies about being in the army, and he lies about being estranged from his parents.
Movie: No army buddies, no parents.

11. The deviled eggs
Nobody eats deviled eggs.
Rachel has a flashback about pelting Tom’s co-workers with a tray full of the hors d’oeuvres.

12. The gaslighting
Book: Rachel slowly pieces together that her memories of her drunken misbehavior haven’t been entirely trustworthy. She remembers a polite interaction with Clara, a wife of one of Tom’s colleagues, but her husband later tells her a different story about her drunken antics. After therapy, Rachel starts to realize that Tom’s stories might not be true.
Movie: Clara is named Martha now, and she’s played by Lisa Kudrow so you know she’s trustworthy. Rachel sees Martha on the train and apologizes to her only for Martha to basically solve the entire mystery for her: It turns out Rachel was perfectly pleasant and performed no egg-related antics. Also, her behavior didn’t get Tom fired; Tom’s inability to stop sleeping with his co-workers got him fired.

13. Anna’s suspicions
Book: Anna first suspects Tom after discovering that he lied to her about meeting with Rachel, especially when she realizes how easily he did it and how easily she was duped.
Movie: Anna starts her investigation after Detective Riley suggests that Tom enjoys the attention from Rachel, which makes her a weirdly mean-spirited detective.

14. Megan’s interaction with Rachel in the overpass
Book: Megan senses that someone is watching her as she gets in the car with Tom.
Movie: Megan sees Rachel in the tunnel, and tells Tom that Rachel is there too. It’s a minor change, but it undercuts the theme of the two women’s connection.

15. Anna’s behavior during the final confrontation
Book: As Tom viciously beats Rachel in their kitchen, Rachel considers the possibility that Anna’s going to let him kill her. But from Anna’s perspective, we see how nervous she is around him, and how she presents a happy façade during the final confrontation so he won’t hurt the baby.
Movie: Anna stares through a window.

16. The fence
Book: Anna and Tom’s fence is a tall fence that you would have to climb over.
Movie: It’s short and there’s an arch that you could walk through. You wouldn’t think this matters, but it makes the ending a lot sillier.

16 Differences in The Girl on the Train Movie