The Girl on the Train Movie: Will it settle a conspiracy theory? (Spoiler Alert!)

Back in January of 2015, I posted a SPOILER discussion of The Girl on the Train (see bottom of this post for original discussion), which hadn’t yet become the runaway hit it is now. It’s since become far and away my most viewed post ever and sparked some fascinating discussion in the comments section.

Did Megan ever have an affair with Kamal?

One theory from the comments section in particular caught my attention and I suspect the movie (coming out tomorrow) could put this question to rest. Some commenters believe that Megan never had an affair with Kamal (her therapist), rather that the scenes with Kamal were cleverly written to make the reader think she was having an affair with him, while avoiding actual hard evidence. And, that Megan is actually referring to Tom (who she calls “him”) when she discusses the affair, rather than Kamal. Let’s take a look at part of the comment thread from my original post:

I’m hoping to get some answers here! First, were all those scenes between Megan and her lover, set up to make the reader assume it was Kamal, really with Tom? And Kamal only really kissed her once, and that was the kiss Rachel saw?

The reason I doubted Megan was having an affair with Kamal is that he would then be a possible father to her baby. Only Scott and Tom were mentioned. I thought it was an oversight by the author until I reread a few Megan sections.

I just reread and it’s quite clear on a second read that she was having the affair with Tom, not Kamal. She always says “he” when referring to Tom but refers to Kamal by name. And she tries it on with Kamal, but he firmly says “No, this is just transference, what you’re feeling” indicating that he had put a stop to her actions before they became physical.

I agree with this, but the only question I still have is who did Rachel see Megan kiss from the train? You’d think that she’d recognize Tom.

But she was kissing him, right? And Rachel saw that – unless it was another dark skinned man- and there were hints she was serial in her affairs. I listened also and thought Kamal did have an affair which bothered me. Now I have to find out.

But then Hugh comes in on the opposite side:
What? Megan said that she went to Kamal’s flat and it was a mess. He touched her lower back, told her he’d have to refer her to another psychiatrist. She barged into his office and tried to fool around and he responded as if they had previously been intimate. I didn’t find that part up for grabs at all!

And then back to Liz:
I just reread the book again and all the times she is having the affair a name is never mentioned. It’s very cleverly interwoven… the scenes where she calls Kamal by his name but then refers to her mystery man she’s having an affair with only as “him”. When Kamal says he can’t be her therapist anymore it’s directly AFTER she tried it on with him, but he put a stop to it immediately, explaining it as transference. The way that it is written makes it very unclear in a way that manipulates the reader in a very clever way.

The kiss she saw was the one time Kamal kisses her, after she finishes telling him her story about her baby with Tom when she comes to her house. It’s not passionate, but more than a therapist. V clever red herring.

Megan did not have an affair with Dr. Kamal. Megan met *him* on page 47 at Swan which Tom reiterates on page 298. This is one of the best twists of the book that changed my whole perspective and people saying the ending was predictable; I am quite certain most people missed this important piece of info that goes on to show Megan was not as flawed as we think her to be. She only had one affair that she felt guilty about and it also makes Dr. Kamal’S claims of not having an affair and subsequent lack of evidence an accurate description from the author. The author is a pure genius in making is believe it was Kamal. Kudos to her.

CS (on the audio version, which may answer the question!): 
I listened to the audiobook version of this, and they gave Kamal an exotic, middle eastern-sounding accent. When she’s talking to the man in the hotel that she’s having an affair with (the one who keeps insisting “we can’t do this again”) he simply has a British accent. Because of that, I knew the man in the hotel wasn’t Kamal, but I didn’t suspect into toward the end it could be Tom. I thought it was the red-haired man!

How will The Girl on the Train movie interpret Megan’s affair?

Which actor (Justin Theroux as Tom or Edgar Ramirez as Kamal) will appear in scenes showing Megan’s affair? Or, will it remain ambiguous? The trailer doesn’t answer many questions. There are two scenes of Megan in close situations with men, neither one of which clearly shows the man’s face:

Scene 1: Megan making out with someone at the 58 second mark. Based on the shorter haircut on the side, my best guess is that it’s Justin Theroux as Tom.
Scene 2: Megan hugging the waist of someone at the [1:28] mark. The longer hair on the top of the man’s head leaves me thinking this is Edgar Ramirez as Kamal, but again I can’t be sure. Plus, this scene is just a hug…nothing truly steamy.

So, after watching the trailer…I wonder if the entire movie will leave the question of Megan’s affair open after all. I guess we’ll all find out tomorrow.

If you’ve seen the movie by the time you’re reading this post…please leave your thoughts in the comments section!

Original Post (1/28/15)

The Girl on the train, paula hawkins


If you have not read The Girl on the Train and are planning to (or are planning to see the movie), do not read any further. There are SPOILERS in this post. Check out my spoiler free review instead!

What was your take on Rachel and her many issues?

  • Delving into Rachel’s issues was my favorite part of the book. She is pathetic on the surface, but has more complexity than meets the eye. Sometimes I wanted to shake her and say, “really, you can’t resist G&T’s out of a CAN?!! Pull yourself together!”. Those sound disgusting, incidentally. But, she ends up showing grit, courage, and tenacity (corkscrew to the neck?!)…and the way Hawkins let it play out made the change in her completely believable.
  • I was fascinated with her alcoholic blackouts and the pure trauma they caused in her life. The thing that struck me most about this was how vulnerable the blackouts made her. And, how this vulnerability coupled with her shame about each of these incidents caused her to believe the worst of herself. She was ripe for the pickings, shall we say.
  • I liked how Hawkins explained how she got like this and tied her downward spiral to her infertility struggle, which seemed like a very realistic scenario to me. This also made me sympathize with her more than I would with your average alcoholic.
  • But, Rachel’s issues weren’t just booze related. She seemed be trying to fill the purposelessness of her life, which caused her to go to extreme lengths to matter…to anyone, about anything. Viewed from this angle, she seemed like an obsessive, stalkerish attention-whore.
  • But, you can also look at her behavior as that of an innately sweet girl who possibly did something horrible (or saw something horrible) while blacked out. And the guilt associated with that drove her to extreme lengths to try to make it right.

What exactly is Tom?

  • Something is clearly wrong in his head, but what is it? Is he a sociopath? Does he have anger issues? He’s not just a guy who killed his mistress in a fit of rage over her threats to expose her pregnancy…he was manipulating and abusing Rachel prior to Megan. I kind of want a diagnosis for him!
  • He actually reminded me of a guy a friend of mine dated long ago. Not the murderous inclinations (obviously!), but the ability to convince his girlfriend that she had mental problems and needed to be in therapy when he was the one that was completely screwed up (liar, cheater, etc). Just like Tom turned the tables on Rachel and exacerbated her drunken spiral. 
  • Hawkins gave us next to nothing about Tom. We know he “lied about everything, all the time”. Other than that, we know he wasn’t in the Army like he said and his fallout from his parents played out differently than he said. But, what else do we really know? Not much! Why is he this sociopathic? Why does he lie all the time? What is his background? I want to know more!

Is Scott the only sane person in this whole mess?

  • Though he was innocent in all this and was understandably not his normal self given he had just lost his wife, learned he was essentially married to a stranger, and was a murder suspect, I thought he had some issues of his own.
  • He showed violent tendencies toward Rachel and Megan when he was angry. Why? I needed some sort of explanation for this behavior once it was confirmed that he wasn’t the killer.

Did anyone see the end coming?

  • I was fairly certain Scott hadn’t killed Megan, as that would have been way too obvious.
  • For a very brief time, I thought maybe Anna was the killer (because of Rachel’s feelings of fear around her). A female killer would have been different and kind of interesting!
  • But, when Anna said, “He’s a really good liar”, I was pretty sure it was Tom. And, once Scott learned that Megan’s baby wasn’t his, I knew for sure. I understand Hawkins had to lay a little groundwork so the ending didn’t seem too random, but did she give away too much, too early? She sure didn’t surprise me…and I’m usually not that great at guessing endings.

Let’s talk! What did you think about all the sordid details?!

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  1. I feel as if I need to read this again. You raise such interesting questions–and I didn’t come away so wowed with this book when I read it.

    Posted 10.6.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I definitely need to read it again with all these new thoughts in mind….but realistically I know I won’t. Haha.

      Posted 10.6.16 Reply
  2. Wow! You remember a lot more about Girl on the Train than I do! What I stands out most for me is that I didn’t like it as much as most people and that I also saw the ending coming. My sister and I are actually going to see this tonight (even though the reviews aren’t looking that great). I’ll let you know what I think.

    Posted 10.6.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Haha – I don’t remember that much…most of my memory comes from reading others’ comments on my original post about it.

      And I didn’t love it as much as others did either…and also guessed the ending 🙂 Would love to hear your thoughts on the movie…especially in light of this affair stuff!

      Posted 10.6.16 Reply
      • So, I saw the movie last night and didn’t love it. Like most movies from books, it’s missing so much of the back story (especially Rachel’s) that it feels like a shell of the book. The movie didn’t differ much from the book, just left out details that filled out the story.

        As to the question of Megan’s affair with Kamal, the movie stayed true to letting the viewer decide. They certainly had more much than a normal client/psychologist relationship and there was definitely “the kiss,” but anything more was implied, but not confirmed.

        I’ll be curious to hear what other people think of the movie.

        Posted 10.7.16 Reply
        • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

          Interesting to hear they left it ambiguous! So maybe that was Hawkins’ intention all along. Sorry the movie wasn’t better. I probably won’t see it – I never have time to see movies anymore.

          Posted 10.10.16 Reply
  3. I took part in your spoiler discussion last year, and though I didn’t comment on that particular observance, you have brought back my thoughts on the plot, and I did at the time think that she had an affair with her therapist. You mean maybe she didn’t, hmm? I really want to see the movie soon, but I don’t think I would reread it.

    Posted 10.6.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I thought she did too, but all these commenters have really specific data points showing she may not have. I don’t care enough to re-read it, but ma glad some others have done the work for me!

      Posted 10.10.16 Reply
  4. diane wrote:

    We are going to see The Girl on the Train tomorrow. I hope I love it. I did like Gone Girl movie more than the book so we shall see.

    Posted 10.9.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Please check back in and let me know what you think!

      Posted 10.10.16 Reply

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