I read the Girl on the Train in hospital, while dipping in and out of general anaesthetics, and I got hopelessly lost with all its shifts in place and perspective. I know that was the whole point of the book, but it left me underwhelmed at the time. So I wasn’t sure whether to see the film, but I was persuaded.
At first, I was disappointed. Gone was the daggy south London railway line that I know and love (or had imagined, I have a feeling that it might originally have been set in north London). There is even a bit of track near us where you get an unimpeded glimpse at the backs of some quite nice houses which seemed as if it could have been the real backdrop for the novel. But no, the action now has been transplanted to New York, with very gorgeous homes on one side and a huge expanse of water (the Hudson Bay?) on the other. This is akin to taking the novel from Catford to Kensington, but hey ho. The film plays on the irresistibility of catching sight of other people’s lives, whether they are rich or not. And some of the important scenes under a railway arch were authentically gritty and confused.
There’s no doubt that it’s a very clever idea for a book or a film, and the end is satisfying. Go and see it, but check out the line from London to Dartford if you want a slice of real life. Just don’t look at my house.