Why I wanted to see it: I’ve read the book by Stieg Larsson, and I love Daniel Craig
Would I see it again in the theater: probably not. It’s very good, but not a happy film.
Would I watch it at home or want to own it: I’ll probably watch it again when it comes out on DVD. Owning will depend upon the special features.
My Thoughts: When the trailers calls this “the feel bad movie of year” there is some truth in advertising to that. Dragon Tattoo is not a happy movie, though there is justice and closure, which are important.
The girl of the title is Lisbeth Salander, an anti-social hacker who’s also a ward of the state (Sweden). It’s her trilogy, but the first installment is more about journalist Mikael Blomkvist. After a libel suit leaves him nearly broke and his reputation little better, he agrees to work for aging industrialist Henrik Vanger to solve the mystery of Vanger’s niece Harriet, who was killed by someone in the Vanger family forty-odd years ago.
The Harriet Vanger mystery is fascinating, creepy, and very good. The movie does justice to Larsson’s original mystery, despite some changes (more about that in the spoiler section). The supporting players are top-notch, Daniel Craig is fantastic, and Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth is remarkable. She’s already been nominated for a Golden Globe, as have Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch for the score, which is perfectly haunting, tense and punk, yet also beautiful. Like Lisbeth.
The cinematography is beautiful, namely the shots of the winter island in Northern Sweden where Blomkvist relocates to research Harriet’s death. The setting alternates between the island and Stockholm. I’ve never been to Sweden, and while I don’t know that it will ever be near the top of my places to visit list, the film did make me miss Europe.
Director David Fincher’s last film, The Social Network, received numerous critical plaudits, including Oscar nominations, and I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a stronger film, so hope it receives equal recognition.
I’d recommend reading the book before seeing the movie, if only so you know what you’re getting into. It’s dark, and it won’t be for everyone, but it’s very well-done. A-
SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE BELOW!!! Ye be warned….
The rape scene: it wasn’t as horrible as I thought, I think because I was anticipating something truly heinous, which it was, but I was prepared for it. For me, it was much more difficult to see the cat’s fate. I covered my eyes and made my mom tell me when it was over.
Regarding the ending, the screenwriter said he changed it because it felt right for the character. I’m more cynical. I found the ending of the book more believable, and think it was changed so that imdb wouldn’t list an actress playing Harriet Vanger. For that reason, I’ll forgive the change.