The Girl on the Train
By Lauren Bales
Novel by Paula Hawkins
Film by Tate Taylor
Tom's ex-wife, drunk, the girl on the train, suspected for Megan's murdered
Tom's former mistress and current wife and baby mama
Tom and Anna's neighbor and babysitter, Tom's current mistress, Scott's wife, ends up murdered
Megan and eventually Rachel's therapist, Megan's lover
Megan's abusive husband
Rachel's ex-husband, Anna's husband and baby daddy, Megan's lover and killer
In the novel, Megan admits to Dr. Kamal that as a teenager she had a child she never wanted, and the baby accidentally drowns in the bathtub. Megan's reluctance to have a child gives the reader the impression that she killed her own child. This confession makes its way to the media as it covers the story of her disappearance, labelling her as a "baby-killer". This is omitted from the film.
- The setting
The novel is based in London, but the film is based in New York. I think this change is to relate this book to a wider audience. New York is one of the most diverse places in the world, so it relates better on an international level.
- Rachel's rage
In the novel, Rachel constant malice towards Anna is expressed through internal monologues where she dreams of attacking Anna. However, in the film Rachel's rage is aimed at Megan, even the violent dream. The film also adds a scene where Rachel expresses this dream to an accidentally recording phone.
- Scott's role
Megan's husband, Scott, has a smaller role in the film than in the movie. In the novel Scott's abuse is a lot more physical. In one scene he reads her emails and learns of her affair, then proceeds to throw her into a wall and choke her. In another, after confronting Rachel about her lies, Scott literally drags her into a room and locks her up. However, in the film, Megan doesn't confess the affair, but he suspects something and lunges after her when she comes home from a rendezvous though nothing much comes of it. After confronting Rachel in the film, Scott gets aggressive and throws a bottle but that's about it.
In the book Scott and Rachel also have a stronger relationship. They 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. They even sleep together. The film keeps their relationship extremely distant. They still interact but not as much.
- Martha and the gaslighting
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. In the film, Clara is named Martha now. Rachel sees Martha on the train and apologizes to her about her antics, only for Martha to essentially solve the entire mystery for her: Rachel was perfectly pleasant and was well behaved. Her behavior wasn't what got Tom fired, Tom’s inability to stop sleeping with his co-workers did.
- The detectives
In the book, Megan's disappearance is investigated by a male detective with a female assistant detective. However, in the film, Detective Riley was given a much more upfront role. Instead of being an assistant detective, Riley is the sole lead detective on the case, to keep up the female-dominance of the film.