First things first: the blog tour for Taken has kicked off! Head over to A Chick Who Reads for an excerpt from my latest release.
I had to think long and hard about which thing I was reviewing today, movie or book. In the end, I went with the movie, simply because it left much more of an impression on me. Don't get me the wrong, the book is good as well, but I think if I hadn't read reviews saying "Give it a hundred pages", I might not have made it through. That's a very long time to read a book that may or may not catch your interest.
The movie, on the other hand, grabs you straight from the get-go. The opening titles definitely set the mood for the entire piece--raw, abusive, violent, and very, very disturbing. And consider some of the movies I watch, for me to label a movie "disturbing" is saying quite a bit.
David Fincher does a good job of skimming through those 100 pages of non-exciting material everyone talks about. I think we went from the judgment against Blomvkeist (guys, ignore my spelling--it's late, I have to work in the morning, and I can't find the damn book to correct myself) to meeting Henrik Vagner in the space of about ten, fifteen minutes tops. Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer, both actors that I adore, are excellent in their roles, especially Plummer. It must be a holdover from his Sound of Music days, playing the leader of a large family.
The flashback sequences, both here and later in the movies, are so at odds with the style of the actual real-time story as to be taken from a different film entirely. Unlike the raw, sharp-edged feel of the majority of the film, the flashbacks are almost lazy, dreamy. The actress playing the young Harriet (and don't I feel like an ass for not knowing her name) does an amazing job of expressing Harriet's emotions, such as they are, with no lines and very limited screen time.
But the story, indeed, I'd say the entire film, rests on Rooney Mara's shoulders. I didn't see the original for a couple of reasons--I don't do subtitles unless I'm in a bar, and I actually only had a interest in the series after I saw the trailer for David Fincher's version. Mara has caught flack for not being as "intense" as Noomi Rapace. If Rapace was more intense than Mara, I'm not sure I want to see the forgein versions. I think I'd get nightmares.
Mara's Lisbeth Salander is rough, anti-social, emotionally stunted, brilliant and possibly amoral--or at least operating under her own moral code. Having seen here previously in Nightmare on Elm Street, the drastic difference in not only her acting but her looks is enough to make you do a double take. On top of which, she was immensely dedicated to the prep and absorbation of the role of Salander. Dude--she went and got her nipple pierced. I'm going to take a moment and let that sink in for you. I cringe at the thought of anyone having their nipples pierced--like cross my arms and flinch kind of deal. And she did it for a movie. This girl has balls the size of a small elephant.
Having read the book, I already knew the ending--which I like. I'm one of those annoying people who more often than not halfway through a movie will Wikipedia or IMDB a film so I know how things are going to end. I think I've seen too many bad movies (I'm totally looking at you, Knowing) to take any chances. Still, I eagerly awaited every twist and turn, if only to see how Fincher was going to handle things. I wasn't disappointed, even with the inevitable shortcuts and minor switches that every novel goes through when it's adapted to screen.
Before I close out, let me address the major issue with not just the book, but the series--the portrayal of women, their place in soceity, and the violence toward them. There were three parts where I turned away from the screen--and they all involved sexual violence. I didn't turn away because it was gratitous--I turned away because it was brutally honest and real in a way seldom seen in movies today. We like to pretend that instances such as the ones described and shown never happen, or we like to whitewash them for public consumption. Larssen and Fincher refuse to do that. And it makes people uncomfortable--which, I'd be willing to guess, is entirely the point.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn't for everyone, even those who read the books. Watching something is always more harrowing than simply reading about it. But if you do watch--you walk away with a appreciation for everyone involved in the film, and a keener understanding of the world we live in.