‘The Girl on the Train’- book to movie adaptation review

Ever since ‘Gone Girl’ hit theatres, it seems there’s been a curse over all thrillers, doomed to be compared to the box office hit. And so, when the long awaited film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ New York Times best seller ‘The Girl on the Train’ was released this year (2016) I feel like there was a collective *sigh* across the globe as we all chanted “not another gone girl!” But come on guys, let’s give Hawkins some credit! Her debut novel was a lot more than just a ‘Gone Girl’ rip off, let me explain.

Through December of 2015 and January of 2016 i was on vacation with my family in London. Since pretty much all of my family lives in London and Belfast (Northern Ireland), we were really there just to see family, which in turn involved a lot of sitting around in my grandmother’s living room watching soap opera re-runs. So, i picked up ‘The Girl on the Train’ from the bookstore hoping it would save me from the absolute boredom i was in- and it did just that!

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‘The Girl on the Train’ is a riveting psychological thriller which kept me on the edge of my seat until the climactic ending! The writing style is fantastic, as it switches character perspectives (between 3 characters) every few chapters in order to remain fresh and give layers of depth to the plot. The perspective would shift just as Hawkins arrived at a jaw-dropping moment or cliff hanger which made this book such a fast read- i absolutely devoured the novel in about 3 days, desperate to find out what happened next!
The characters are so interesting and Hawkins excellently develops their backstories and characteristics throughout the novel- you really understand each and every character’s motivations by the end. The only downside of the novel is could be a little boring at times in the middle where the plot didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Rachel’s blackouts and drinking problem become quite irritating as it hinders her ability to solve the mystery, but i suppose that was what Hawkins was going for! Also, i felt several characters kind of go off on a tangent whilst revealing their backstory, which can be slightly boring, but all in all ‘The Girl on the Train’ was an amazing book! The author’s descriptions were phenomenal- she really transports you into the novel and grips you until the very end!

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Now, I’ll be the first to admit it. I only read the book because i knew the film version starring the incomparable Emily Blunt was to be released this year. I thought for sure the film was going to be excellent….unfortunately i found myself disappointed at yet another poorly executed film adaptation.

The film was incredibly shot, the cinematography was excellent, perfectly encapsulating that eerie mood of the novel. I was a little confused at the change of setting, as the book was set in London but the film was set in New York (like, come on…was that really necessary?) but the story adapted well to the change. The cast was extraordinary, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Justin Theroux in particular put up strong performances. I  gotta say, i really didn’t think Blunt could portray such a train-wreck of a woman, but she did so chillingly. However, that’s about where my praises end for the film. I found the development of characters was…well…one dimensional. The film offers a minimal insight into characters, instead it felt like they were revealing backstories purely for expositional purposes, rather than to create the emotional ties necessary between characters and the audience. I felt that too much of the original plot was omitted in the film, in particular the relationships between Rachel and Scott, Tom and Cathy. I just think that too much necessary information was removed in order for the film to fit a specific run time- hello Hollywood, audiences will not care about characters unless you make us care!!!  Show us why we should love or hate or envy or pity someone- don’t just tell us that we should!!! That’s the problem with Hollywood nowadays, they’re so ready to make a quick buck they don’t stop to think about what films are really about- stories. The big plot twist ending was not as enthralling and terrifying in the film as it was in the book- so disappointing! It was the one scene the screenwriters had to really out-do the novel!! The film lacked the hitchcockian execution modern audiences thirst!! All in all, it really just felt like a desperate attempt to make money off Hawkins’ creation.

When will the day come that we get an excellent adaptation!! Well, that’s all from me, until next time!

-Aly xx

NOVEL: 8/10

FILM (as a stand-alone): 6/10

FILM (as an adaptation): 6/10