It’s not often that I see two movies in two days, but then it’s not often Budge and I get enough movie gift cards to afford such a display of opulence. Last night, Budge and I joined Deuce and Cameron to check out The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Budge and I had read the novel; Cameron and Deuce had not.
My general opinion is anchored strongly in the music. I feel that any film which opens with Trent Reznor doing an excellent cover of the unbelievably hard to cover “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin AND showcases “Orinoco Flow” by Enya in the most ironic and inappropriate moment since the “Stuck in the Middle with You” scene in Q. Tarentino’s Reservoir Dogs (Google it on an empty stomach) is pretty much destined to be a good flick.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a good flick. I might go so far as to say a great flick. At the very least, Rooney Mara deserves a nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Dramatic Film. When I see a movie based on a novel I’ve read, one criteria for me is how much do the actors match the images of the characters I’ve created in my imagination. Mara’s portrayal of the brilliant and haunted Lisbeth Salander is closer than any character from any novel based movie I’ve ever seen. It’s like Mara read the novel then somehow absorbed Salander into her soul. Her eyes, her mannerisms, her genius all glare off the screen. She is a character who cannot and will not be ignored.
The rest of the cast are well suited to their roles also. Stellan Staarsgard is particularly gripping in his role as the dutiful and enigmatic Martin Vanger while Christopher Plummer lends his character acting mastery to the role of the grief broken Heinrick Vanger. Personally, two of my favorite performances were minor characters. I thought Steven Berkoff perfectly captured the role of the harried lawyer who is so deeply enmeshed in the family that he pretty much IS a member of the family while Goran Visjinic captures Dragan Armansky’s touching paternalistic solicitude of Lisbeth with pitch perfect precision. When he says, “She’s had a difficult life, can we please not make it any MORE difficult?” the audience gets the sense of a man who cares deeply for a wounded and troubled girl but who has no fleshly interest in her whatsoever.
This film is R rated and it has good reason. Some R rated films, particularly raunchy comedies like The Hangover might be okay for your kids to watch once you realize they hear worse language and cruder humor in the cafeteria and on the playground of the average public school. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn’t really have much in the way of bad language. For a modern film the characters drop very few F-bombs but unless you want to explain what cunnilingus is, leave the kiddos home. What the characters do, however, is see life at it’s seamiest and most brutal. One rape scene in the first third of the film is extremely disturbing as is the revenge the raped takes upon the rapist. Consensual sex is shown graphically, but not frequently although you probably don’t want to take a first date to this show; oh yeah, and if you’re an animal lover, don’t get attached to the cat.
As with any novel based movie, the question always arises “how faithful to the novel is the movie?” In this case, I feel David Fincher has done for Steig Larson’s work what Peter Jackson did for Tolkien’s corpus. The movie has some rearranging of events to better fit a movie and some events are changed for what seems like monetary or time concerns, but on the whole, the story is remarkably unchanged from the novel. I find that to be a plus, but some people may not really care. If you are a Larson fan, however, this movie won’t disappoint you and I think Larson himself would be proud of the way his debut novel has been brought to the screen.
Incidentally, I know this is a remake of the Swedish film of the same name from just a couple of years ago and since I reviewed Sherlock Holmes 2 so recently, I can’t help but mention that Noomi Rapace, who played the female lead in SH 2 also played Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish film. I’d love to hear from anyone who has seen the original and would like to tell my audience how the two versions compare.