Monday, January 2, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I sort of dreaded seeing this. Yes, I read Stieg Larsson's books- every last one. I found them bloated and always in need of a sharp editor with a pair of virtual scissors. Larsson's books are full of needless random subplots and overdone narrative- and that is why the Swedish film versions of these books are awful. In order to understand the Swedish films you must have READ the books- characters drop in and out and scenes are truncated and obtuse to follow- as if the screenwriter would be tased if he left out one tidbit. So I feared another lengthy feature length film would make me sorry I ever heard of the franchise. But what a great surprise! At heart, these books are written by an angry, angry socialist who thinks everyone is a victim (my opinion- you can keep yours). And the best point of the books is that Salander is a survivor- competent, not afraid to be brutal,and gifted. Larsson uses Salander as a social and political cause- evidently Sweden is tough on its wayward youths all the way into their adulthood. Sadly, we cannot interview the very late Larsson to see if he is still so angry. But he does make the guys in the audience squirm. So the script writer had a choice- clutter the US version with the useless meanderings in the book, as Sweden did,  or stick to the heart of the story. And by sticking to the heart of the book, it is  far better than either the book or the Swedish film. The cast is terrific except for the surprise of seeing Robin Wright (Penn) flash on the screen- which actually caused some laughter in our theater. It is as brutal as they come- fairly graphic and hard to watch at times. Daniel Craig is a great Blomkvist and Mara Rooney is even better as Lisbeth Salander. What IS funny is how half the cast speaks English with an off and on Swedish accent. Or I assume it is Swedish. Then some speak with a British accent that also comes and goes. It is distracting and truly a detail the director should NOT have missed. I am glad that they pared the story down as far as it could go- no one will miss the unimportant scenes that stemmed from the ADD/ADHD mind of Larsson in his books. I hope Hollywood makes the other books into movies with the same scriptwriter, Steve Zaillion- because he got the gist of it.  And because of that, if you promise not to bring the kids, I highly recommend this movie.