Movie #50: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

First let’s establish that I couldn’t get past a few pages of the Stieg Larsson novel; and I viewed-but-didn’t-enjoy the original Swedish film featuring Noomi Rapace (who I did enjoy watching). Nevertheless, I was excited when I heard that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was being remade in English by director David Fincher (whose movies I’ve enjoyed immensely over the years) and Daniel Craig (one of my favourite actors). Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist who was sued into disgrace by a large and corrupt Swedish corporation. Rooney Mara (who I’m assuming got to know Fincher while working together on The Social Network) plays the other half of this story’s dynamic duo: the goth-punk, angry, damaged, super-smart hacker-investigator Lisbeth Salander. Mikael is hired by Henrik Vanger, a wealthy magnate played wonderfully by Christopher Plummer, to pretend to be writing his biography while secretly investigating which of his family members killed his niece decades ago and continues to send him mementos each year on her birthday. Even after watching both film versions, I am still pretty surprised at the global phenomenon this story became. I didn’t think there was this kind of appetite for such brutality (there is a famous and graphic rape scene in this movie) and also for such moral corruption (which is an actually extremely popular theme in the Nordic cinema that I’ve seen) that this would be a world-wide best seller. Probably a lot of the credit goes to the uniqueness of the character of Lisbeth Salander. Mara was excellent, showing as both weak and strong at the same time. Prickly as she may be, she’s not like any other heroines out there. This movie didn’t really focus as much on it as the novel probably does, but she has her ways of getting the information she needs. In this film, much of that was nosing her way through dusty archives or speed-clicking her way across one of her many keyboards. Craig as Blomkvist also wasn’t bad. He’s not exactly a dashing hero either (despite being played by the actor who plays James Bond). Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sense of his chemistry with Salander. Blomkvist and Salander share little interaction for a large portion of the first half of the movie. When the other well-known scene of the two of them sleeping together comes along, it seems out-of-the-blue and difficult to accept as something that isn’t totally random. One of the other challenges of this story is keeping the Vanger family/suspects straight. I’ve heard that it’s quite tricky when reading the book, but it wasn’t too bad in the movie. I realized early on (it helps to have already seen the original film) that I had no hope of following any clues or coming to the conclusions myself (I had forgotten much of that other version, so I was still going to be surprised by the outcome) ahead of Blomkvist and Salander. I was just going to follow their “aha’s” to the intended conclusion. The fact that this movie was still set in Sweden, with actors playing Swedish characters without the need to reinvent anything was great. It was another chance at a story that I didn’t really understand the first time, in a way that was much more accessible to me. I’ve heard that there were changes made between the two movies (but honestly I don’t remember the first well enough to pick them out), but I think things made more sense in the English version. However, I believe the final scene is an addition and I really thought it was a mistake. I don’t think it reflected the Lisbeth/Mikael relationship and it was a bit of disappointment that spoiled things a little. Nevertheless, I am actually looking forward to meeting these characters again whenever The Girl Who Played With Fire comes out (4.5 out of 5).

That’s all, folks! It’s been fun.

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