The sad reason why "The Girl on the Train" is set in New York and not the U.K.
The novel The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is set in merry olde England. But the new thriller starring Emily Blunt is set in the slightly-less-merry New York City. Closer readers of the book might be a little disappointed by this news — crying to the sky, “why can’t this movie be set where the book is? Why?” But the reason behind this setting change actually makes a great deal of sense, so stop your moping and get ready to be at the edge of your seats when this creepy, psychological thriller premieres October 7th.
Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson explained the change to Entertainment Weekly that a U.K. setting “wasn’t even on the table.” The film was always going to be in the USA, though the city wasn’t always clear — Wilson dabbled with places like Seattle but decided on New York because of the beauty of the suburbs saying, “The train itself is totally unsexy but the river is, and the backyards, and the suburbs — Croton-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry, all these places you look at when you’re coming out of the grayness of the city…”
So we’re supposed to feel bad for the main character that she’s stuck in dirty NYC while the lush suburbs are just within reach via a train ride. This landscape also details the stark contrast between that beauty and the saddest reason The Girl On The Train is set in the U.S. — alcoholism.
Wilson also points to the differences between drinking culture in the U.S. and the UK as another layer of this setting choice. She says, “It’s much more of a drinking culture [in England]. It’s not as shameful as it is here. In America, [drinking at bars] is all about going into a dark hole where nobody can see you do a bad thing.” Which is probably why our protagonist drinks our vodka in a water bottle — she’s ashamed of her desire to drink.
So basically, New York was used to drive it home that Blunt’s character is really, really sad and feeling quite shameful. Sad and shamed enough to…murder? I guess we’ll find out.