Sunday we went to see the movie version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Both my husband and I have read all three books in the trilogy, so there were no surprises. Nevertheless, I was biting my nails through a lot of the movie.
The movie has subtitles, but that didn’t detract from the experience at all. Nor did the convoluted plot strands, which the director presented using photo montages to substitute for wordy explanations. We noticed a few changes in the plot from what happened in the book, but presumed they were made to streamline the story.
For any who have not yet read the book, the plot involves the search for a girl who disappeared forty years before, and the discovery that some gruesome murders of women are somehow linked to the case. The missing girl’s uncle, Henrik Vanger, employs a muckraking journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, to investigate. Blomkvist is available since he is currently out of work subsequent to a libel accusation. Blomkvist hires an idiosyncratic but inspired computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, to help. As they get closer to discovering what happened, their lives also become endangered.
The casting is excellent – actress Noomi Rapace becomes Lisbeth right before your very eyes, and Michael Nyqvist is perfect as Mikael Blomkvist. We were all the more impressed because so much emotion was conveyed by both of them with no dialogue at all. In fact, I felt I finally understood Lisbeth in ways I hadn’t been able to just from reading the book(s). The only disappointment was Lena Endre as Mikael’s boss Erika Berger. In the book she is portrayed as attractive and dynamic. In the movie she seems more like a stressed-out whiny co-worker.
The character of Lisbeth in the movie, just as in the book, is unforgettable. Quoting the movie review from Boston.com,
“We recognize a ferocity in her that the men here are too arrogant or psychotic to appreciate. Few of them see the enormous dragon tattooed on her back, but if they could, they would know that dragon should be wearing a tattoo of her. The beauty of Rapace’s performance is its marriage of watchfulness to action.”
It’s a movie I highly recommend, especially if you’ve read the book. (We both wondered, however, if we could have followed it if we hadn’t read the book, but it’s impossible to know.) One big caveat: they apparently don’t shy away from showing rape and torture in Sweden, and some parts were so painful to watch I had to cover my eyes.
Still, don’t let that stop you from seeing it. As The Washington Post reviewer said:
“It’s the rare 2 1/2 -hour film that doesn’t make you look at your watch once. ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is such a film…. like a good book, the plot is so engrossing, the characters so rich and complex, the mood of gloom mixed with glimmers of hope so all-encompassing that the thought of its actually ending never occurs to you…. “
That observation is so true. I was shocked to discover how much time had passed when we exited the theater.