A few months ago I read the first of The Girl trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Naturally, when I heard an American version of the book-turned Swedish independent film was coming to theaters, I knew I had to see it.
C was a little hard to persuade to go see this one, but once I convinced him it was an action packed murder mystery and not a chick flick, he agreed to take me.
There are only two words that come to mind when recalling this movie: wild and twisted. If you read the novel, this should come as no surprise. The film stayed very true to the plot of the book; two hours and forty minutes of intricate family interconnections, unforeseen brutality, sex, and nail-biting suspense.
Rooney Mara played the story's leading female role, a sullen 24-year old living as a ward of the state, Lisbeth Salander. She perfectly captured the loneliness of the genius computer hacker character, while still radiating a sense of humanity behind her thick black eye makeup and tattooed body. It is no lie that this movie would not be as effective without the pure brilliance Mara displayed in taking on the role of Lisbeth Salander.
David Craig played Millennium magazine journalist, Mikael Blomkvist. His image is exactly what I pictured while reading the book: handsome, scruffy, and aged with the stressors of being an anti-corporate journalist. I am glad that the movie didn't Hollywood-ize him in the sense that it was hard to truly like Mikael Blomkvist in the book, and the movie was no different. I will say that his character was somewhat underdeveloped in the movie version, as was his relationship with Salander.
Like the novel, the movie was initially hard to follow at the beginning and I almost felt bad for anyone sitting in the theater who had not read the book. The complicated web of Swedish names and places was difficult to keep track of even with a family tree and prologue prefacing the book; with nothing to look back at while sitting in the theater I can imagine the setting might have remained confusing up until the first hour or so of the film.
When I looked over at Loverboy to read his reaction at the end of the movie, his eyes were wide before he turned to me and simply stated, "We need to talk." Ha! He really enjoyed the movie, but because of course he never read the story, I had to explain a lot of details that the movie attempted to elucidate through facial expressions and insinuations via filmography. For a film that was nearly three hours long, the ratio of suspenseful music to dialogue was surprisingly disproportionate. Perhaps if there was more dialogue the plot would be easier to comprehend for those first being introduced to it.
Overall, I was pleased with the movie. I had forgotten how grotesque and graphic the story was and I was anxiously grabbing at the upper arm of my date in anticipation of the brutality. (Sorry, C.) I knew exactly what was going to happen next, but even so, I was more than entertained. I wasn't expecting the film to be so true to the novel because of it's length, but ultimately I am glad that it did.
For those of you who are antsy in long movies or prone to nightmares, I recommend waiting to see this one until it comes out on DVD. And for those of you who have not yet read the book, do yourself a favor and read it prior to paying the $11 for a movie ticket. You will thank yourself later.