SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Girl On The Train. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't want to learn details about the ending, we recommend clicking away to another one of our wonderful articles.
When books hit the silver screen, not everything in the story stays the same. History is filled with plenty of adaptations that changed key elements from the source material -- and generated controversy as a result. This was a situation that director Tate Taylor found himself looking at when starting his work on the making of The Girl On The Train, deciding what he would change from the book and what would remain. When it came to the ending, he learned from his experience making The Help that there's no reason to alter the material, basically because you shouldn't mess with perfection.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of chatting with Tate Taylor over the phone about his new film, and now that The Girl On The Train is in theaters, I can dive into the spoiler-y material that he discussed. Acknowledging that the ending in the movie is very similar to the ending in the book, I asked the director if there were any talks about changing elements or doing things differently in the adaptation. Referencing a certain notorious desert in his 2011 movie, Taylor said,
As I tell people, the ending of this book, what happens to Tom, in many ways, is the shit pie moment in The Help. It's what the author wrote. The people really love it. And don't you dare mess with it, even if you artistically maybe would do something different. I've never learned that more than the shit pie. I did. The author knows this. I didn't agree with it. It was not something I would do. It didn't feel real, and I was toying with not doing it. And then one morning I woke up, and I said, 'You will be hung in the town square. You just embrace it and accept the millions of people that love it, and you make it work.' And that's just how it was, how I felt about this movie. If it's not broke, don't fix it.
For those that haven't seen The Help or don't remember the details of the ending (how could you forget?), the "shit pie" is a literal pie made with shit that is served by Octavia Spencer's Minny Jackson to Bryce Dallas Howard's Hilly Holbrook. One can see Tate Taylor's perspective on this one, as it is a bit "blue," but most would agree that it's one of the best moments in the film, and certainly the most memorable (seriously, how could you forget?).
As for The Girl On The Train, the ending is definitely a strength borrowed from writer Paula Hawkins, with the big twist revealing that Emily Blunt's Rachel has been a victim of gaslighting at the hands of her ex-husband, Justin Theroux's Tom. In addition to being something that fans of the book very much enjoyed, it's also worth noting that it would have been very hard to remove from the adaptation, just because it's so built into the narrative up until the reveal. Basically, it's for the best that Tate Taylor made the move that he did.
Do you agree with Tate Taylor that the ending of The Girl On The Train needed to stay exactly the same as its source material? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts.