I went to see the 10:15 p.m. showing of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,meaning I got out of the theater at 1:00 a.m. I did not want to be influenced by a million online reviews before I had a chance to judge for myself. Any movie fan knows about the Swedish films that have been called some of the best movie work ever. Stieg Larssons Millennium Trilogy became a cult literary sensation and are huge achievements not to mention that they are awe inspiring to other writers looking to create their own unique characters. I my self have yet to read the books,though I do own the first one I have yet the time to fully devote to reading this extensive achievement. When I do read it I will no doubt have much more to add to my review;however, at this time I am reviewing as a fan of the story as I know it through the Swedish films that were made for television.
The story and character are of Lisbeth Salander is one of the most layered that I have ever encountered. I figure that most who watch the film have already seen the original,if not then this review will contain spoilers. Rooney Mara won the role and then she earned the right to have it. She brings to the screen certain elements of the personality of Lisbeth,that Noomi Rapace did not,and Noomi Rapace held some characteristics that Rooney lacked. This could also be attributed to writing of the two different scripts. The Noomi Rapace version was more detached and her emotions were not quite as surface (except in the disturbing rape scene which was much more vivid in the Swedish film). She did not allow Blomkvist to know anything about her and told him to get used to it,and although the two slept together she emotionally keeps him at a distance. Some of those elements stayed with Rooney Maras’ version but not near as rigidly. By the end of this film Blomkvist knows why she spent her youth in a mental house,although she tells him in a nonchalant matter. In the Swedish films she does not let him touch her or get close to her and after her first sexual approach leaves him much like we women accuse men of doing. All of this was central to her character and is what leaves us the viewer/reader as well as Blomkvist needing to know what happened in her life that made her this way.
What Rooney did bring to the role that Noomi left was more of a vulnerability that I felt was probably literally there. Noomi Pace looks very athletic and though she is beautiful she looked older than the character of Lisbeth Salander is supposed to be and she is also (in the film) a boxer,which is something we do not find out until the third film. From what I read on fan forums of the book the literary character was androgynous and looked anorexic which is something that Fincher and Rooney Mara kept in the character.
I noticed immediately when first meeting the new Lisbeth Salander that she was much more anti social in communication,almost like someone with asperger syndrome could be,however as the film progresses that part of her fades in her partnership with Blomkvist,this could be just an effect of the progression of the film.
This film doesn’t leave as many questions as the Swedish,or maybe the questions I had when watching the Swedish were just because of errors in the translation. I did love this film but I won’t know how literary true it was without reading the book. I do know that the Swedish film portrayed the Harriet character,who is central in the mystery and bringing the two researchers together, as being a babysitter in Blomkvists childhood and the Swedish film never mentions Blomkvist having a daughter of his own.
As far as the film goes, not in comparison to the original,the detail was amazing,the locations and characters living spaces were so much are part of the telling of the story and if they had not been there the movie would have been lame. Lisbeth’s apartment is just as telling of her personality as her wardrobe. Fincher is a genius with this,and the Vangar families different housing reflects money,control and power in a way that was not quite as present in the Swedish films. Also representing the story in a powerful way was the music here. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross convey the emotional disturbances in every scene where mere words wont and it matches scenes and physical expression perfectly and that was something that the Swedish films lacked.
The character of Blomkvist was much more interesting in this film and I love Daniel Craig always,it was interesting to see the man who plays Bond with such a cold demeanor,play a character who can hardly stand the site of blood and who is saved by a waif like punk. He has a similar look to him as the original actor ( Michael Nyqvist) but has more personality ( again maybe a loss in the translation with the original films-or maybe I just love D.C.) Daniel Craig is not the reason people will watch this film though. All eyes are on Rooney for the comparison and I think she earned her stripes. I have no doubt this was a coveted acting opportunity, and will be the kind of star making role for Rooney as Gia or Girl Interrupted was for Angelina Jolie. Will Rooney Mara win an Oscar? Well considering the academy and their stiff necks when it comes to doling out awards,probably not. It might get a nod for cinematography and score or original music but they are so cookie cutter about everything else. They only want a certain kind of crazy. That’s just my opinion.
I thought that half way through the film things starting progressing too quickly but maybe that is because I watched all three of the original films in one night….it was a long night I liked it enough to hope that there are American sequel’s and that neither Mara nor Craig drop out of the trilogy. The ending scene alone was enough to make the viewer come back to Lisbeth Salander’s world. I also know there is so much that comes out as the story progresses that are central to the why and how of Lisbeth Salander.
About that ending scene…..
I have read comments and reviews about this film from fans of the original movies and readers of the book that hated it before any one the planet had seen it (it just came out today) and I think that is a tragedy. For one thing,everyone seems to not be able to agree on Lisbeth as a whole or if Stieg Larrson would like this film…well considering we all just now seen it, then we would not have known last month if he would have would we? He is also gone from this world so we never will,nor will we know if he would have liked the original,which was pretty bare bones in certain parts,just as this was in certain parts. Such levels of character, psychology and crime can never be fully conveyed in one film or even a trilogy of films and personally I think in one reading of a book. Larrson is said to have hated crimes and abuse towards women and felt guilty his whole life for witnessing a rape and doing nothing about it. For that reason he created a heroin who had with stood all of those things,and it seems in Blomkvist,a man who does not seem put off by Lisbeth,who is intrigued by her and save by her. Some people seem to believe that Larrson wrote of a sexually free independent lesbian and that Fincher was going to “reduce” her to simply a computer hacker who needed a man to protect her and was only lesbian by proxy because of all the abuse she had endured from men. That was written by fans of the Swedish films…now I have not read the books but I have seen the Swedish films,and they were much more graphic and disturbing and I came away with the same conclusion some fans were afraid would be made watching Finchers version…not that Lisbeth needs a man for protection but that if I had been molested,abused,watched abuse,had my civil rights taken away and then brutally raped that well I might get my stress relief from women too. Ultimately though I assumed that the Swedish films probably represented Larssons’ character and not wether she was lesbian or bisexual. This is a swedish author of a swedish novel turned Swedish film and Sweden has been more open and liberal sexually then America for years, so I think that Lisbeth’s sexuality was irrelevant. That is what I assume. I also felt that even though Lisbeth is independent,fierce and brilliant she has been calloused and she is cold and that is brought out more so in Noomi RaPace then in Rooney,though both convey it Rooney just in certain parts. The character has been forced to be that way to survive. It is survial and that does not make her a “strong independent woman” that “this american film is going to reduce” to-fill in the blank. She is frail and cannot show it she needs and cannot describe it she is brilliant and cannot communicate it. That is evident even in the original films,this is why I say the character is layered.
The book series were supposed to be ten books long so who knows the further unveiling of character history would have been revealed had Larrson lived,so before we go making socio political statements let us consider that we really do not have that right.