The Girl on the Train has been compared to Gone Girl so many times that the biggest twist in the former’s narrative would be if it was written about without a single mention of the latter. That said, forgive us for doing it one last time: when Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel was turned into a movie, many wondered how the twists and turns could possibly translate to the big screen. The similarly titled and similarly sensational Train, by Paula Hawkins, also posed a similar challenge.
“I think the biggest challenge was that I was juggling three points of view, memory, flashback, false memory and sometimes memory within memory,” screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson explained to ET of the puzzle she had to piece together.
Spoilers ahead for The Girl on the Train.
In the end, Wilson and director Tate Taylor (The Help) did what Flynn and David Finch did before them: they stuck to the source material. For the most part, The Girl on the Train film unfolds exactly as the novel did, down to the film’s introductions of the three women — Rachel (Emily Blunt), Megan (Haley Bennett) and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) — via title cards.
“The book keeps switching around from point of view to point of view depending on the chapter. I had to drop that, however I felt that opening with it would establish the three POVs,” Wilson noted. “Then staying within Rachel’s kept us moving steadily along. I opened with Rachel’s voiceover and I tricked the other voiceovers, because they’re actually not. We think they’re voiceovers and then we realize they’re actually pre-lap monologue. They’re talking to someone…I gave it a try only through Rachel’s [POV] and it just felt like it lost the soul of the book. It’s really important to have this triad.”
Wilson stuck to this approach throughout, making minor changes here and there but changes that were always rooted in the text. AN example: there’s a passage in the book where Rachel fantasizes about grabbing Anna’s hair and smashing her head into the ground, which was reappropriated for Megan in the film. (“I was like, Oh! I have to use that!” she exclaimed.)