I really liked the book when I read it last year and Jason and I finally got around to seeing the movie last week. There might be smallish spoilers. It’s really impossible to talk about either without revealing points that make it worth reading/watching.
The Story/Plot Rachel is a drunk and every day as she rides the train from her home to the big city she watches a couple in love as the train roars past, giving them names and a story of their own. This is the starting point for both and the way the story unfolds is similar, but different enough to notice. Location, location, location. In the book Rachel lives outside of London, in the movie it’s New York. In the book the story moved between three women, all connected in ways that revealed themselves slowly. The movie told their stories in a different order and sanitized some aspects so the overall effect wasn’t nearly as twisty. In the book we got into the minds of these women in ways that were missed onscreen. Thumbs Up – Book
The Visual Since I live in Ohio, I would have much preferred the setting of London, a place I would love to visit someday. The screen did get some of the darker scenes right, but nothing my imagination didn’t do as well or better. Thumbs Up – Book
Characters vs. Actors This is the category where the most significant changes were made, in my opinion. Rachel is an overweight, unhappy drunk who is obsessed with other people. Emily Blunt did an admirable job, but the storytelling did her a disservice. The movie went of its way to redeem her, even adding a character (Lisa Kudrow) to show us that she really was a good person. She wasn’t the only one they made less interesting. Rebecca Ferguson as the ex-wife and Luke Evans as the missing woman’s husband were both a shade or two less dark than they should have been to make them as compelling as they were in the book. Justin Theroux, Allison Janney, Laura Prepon and Haley Bennett rounded out the all-star cast and make this one hard to judge. I’ll call this one a wash because I did love the cast, but I also think the dark edge of the characters was superior in the book. Thumbs Up – Tie
The Ending The ending was as close as it could have been, although I could’ve done without the last scene in the police station (further redemption of Rachel was unnecessary). I guess for that reason I’d choose the book, but it’s close. Thumbs Up – Book
And the winner is…the book! There wasn’t anything wrong with the movie but it didn’t come close to packing the punch that the book did.
Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd) (The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting) (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)