It all happened over a game of Words With Friends at 6:00am on December 20th. My friend Marianne and I were engaging in our daily routine of WWF when I sent her a message and said something like "I so want to see The Dragon Tattoo, but shoot, we have the kids' Christmas program tonight". One thing led to another, and plans were hatched for the two of us and my mom to run over to see this long-awaited movie at 9:00pm, after our little angels had blessed us with their sweet holiday singing voices.
We were all excited, but a little fearful. After all, the Hollywood version of this internationally best-selling book had huge shoes to fill. While not widely screened, the three of us had all seen the Swedish version, and loved it. It wasn't perfect...why do directors feel the need to MESS with the story details? But the complicated, multi-threaded plot was easy enough to follow, and Noomi Repace was a stunning embodiment of Lisbeth.
As we were leaving the theater, the three of us all agreed that this version wasn't quite as good. Here are a few of our takeaways:
The issue of casting rested solely on the shoulders of Rooney Mara. I think David Fincher, the director, took a chance on her. She was fairly unknown up to this point, and had never had a major role that pushed her acting limits. And she took Lisbeth and ran with her. I had no complaints. She was quirky and angry and badass, but Fincher's Lisbeth had a few moments of softness to her, and I liked that.
As I said before, this movie has three or four complicated plot threads running through it, and it takes a deft hand at screenwriting to navigate "the unread" through the paces. From the very beginning, this movie felt jerky and manic and extremely hard to understand. I've read these books, and seen the Swedish movies, and I couldn't quite follow it. Some of the dialogue was mumbled, and while I am all for the "show not tell" mantra, I think the average viewer required a little more explanation than we got.
And there is the messing with the facts again. I really don't know why they must do this. They didn't change the spirit of the movie, though, so I guess I need to get over the fact that they will always need to tweak and put their own mark on the thing.
One thing that I must mention, and it is the thing that still lingers in my mind hours after seeing the movie. And that is the opening credits. I've never seen anything quite like it. Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeah) have created a delightfully insane rendition of Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song", which alone is pretty mind-blowing. But they married this music up with an artistic video sequence that, according to Fincher, is intended to depict "the primordial tar pit of (Lisbeth's) subconscious." Yeah, so I dare you to watch this in Dolby Surround on the big screen and not sit there with your mouth hanging open, whispering to yourself, "What. The. Hell."
Pretty wicked, right?
I would encourage everyone to see this movie. It is solid. Just keep your expectations in check if you have seen the original. And if you haven't read the book (really?), then bring along your patience and make peace with the fact that you may need to watch it twice to understand it.