04 June 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Well, this was my first outing to a movie with our book club. Last month, we read the novel by Stieg Larsson. It was amazing to say the least. The local art house theater still had the movie playing, so we set a date to go see it. As I usually do, I dug into the movie and its key players. Being a foreign film, I did not know anything that any of them had done. I did, however, learn that the film is the highest grossing Swedish film of all time. I am no stranger to foreign films, and I have no problem with subtitles. Some of the people in the book club were worried about it, but they all seemed to be fine with it in the end.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the more neutral translation. The book is actually titled, Men Who Hate Women. After reading the book and watching the movie, the original title fits perfectly. The movie follows the basic outline of the story very faithfully. The problem with a movie of a 590 page book is, they have to leave things out and change things enough to meet budget and time restraints. The basic story and plot are still intact.

The story focuses on Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced investigative journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker with autism. The movie doesn’t focus as much on her autism or Aspergers syndrome, yet the book does. It does focus on the relationship between her and her guardian, Nils Bjurman. That is a dark storyline.’

The story opens with Blomkvist being found guilty of libel, and having to leave his post at his newspaper, Millenium. Blomkvist is then hired by the elderly Henrik Vanger to look into the disappearance and murder of his granddaughter Harriet. The catch, she went missing 40 years ago, and the suspects are all part of the Vanger family. They all live on an island with one way on, and it is the same island where Harriet went missing. As the mystery unfolds, Blomkvist hires Salander to help in solving the crime. I do not want to give anything away, so I will leave it at that.

Being a foreign film, it is hard for me to rate the acting. I thought the casting was a bit odd. Noomi Rapace was an excellent choice for Libeth Salander. Bjurman was well cast. I would have chosen someone a little frailer for Henrik. The ladies from the book club thought that Blomkvist should have had more sex appeal. Anyway, the direction was solid. The score was neither good nor bad. The tension was palpable. I love it when all of the elements come together to make you feel uncomfortable.

As for the differences from the novel to the film, the only one I did not care for was the fact that the last 120-175 pages was condensed to about 10 minutes of screen. That part was very interesting and entertaining to me. They cut out a lot of the storyline of the magazine, the Vanger Group, and what really happened with Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Some of these elements bother me because the book is the first in a trilogy, but a planned ten book series until the untimely death of the author. I have only read the first book, but I cannot see how they are going to ignore these storylines in the future films. All three books have been filmed in Sweden. David Fincher has signed on to direct an American remake of all three films. The casting rumors are fun to read, but I do not understand the need for this remake.

In the end, I have to say, read the book. It is amazing. The movie is good. It did seem to have some overlap with the future books, which bothered me a little since I have not read them. But, oh well. I did enjoy it. As a warning, it is 148 minutes long. I kind of lied to the wife about that so she would accompany me. Oops!

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