I don’t read as much as I used to, and the last few years I have read very few books. But one I did read was Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. In 2009, I saw the film based on the book was being released, so hurried off to see it at a London Cinema. I wasn’t disappointed. Unusually, the main characters (played by Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist) were exactly as I had imagined them in my head, and the Swedish locations were just right too.
The story is the first part of a trilogy. So not unlike a serial, it leaves you wondering at the end. But what an unusual and involving story it is, with the twists and turns surrounding the lives of a crusading journalist, and the abused and damaged girl he encounters. It’s a tough tale, featuring a domestic violence, an abused child, sexual assault, rape, and elements of torture too. But it is so well done, those incidents never seem exploitative, or salacious. A web of corruption, murder and betrayal, abuse of power, and sweet revenge. It all adds up to an edge of the seat thriller that leaves you wanting more. And you get more; two more episodes, in separate films.
The leads are brilliant in their roles, and well supported by a list of very good actors that all earned their money, and my admiration. Direction is tight, the script sharp, and the experience for the film-goer is completely satisfying. Please watch it, if you like hard-hitting thrillers.
Just two years later, the talented American director David Fincher made a straight remake of the film, in English. He filmed it in Sweden, and packed the cast with A-list talent. We got Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, the excellent Stellan Skarsgard, Joely Richardson, and even Steven Berkoff. They were all well-cast, and nicely suited for their roles. Fincher didn’t mess around too much with either script or story, making it as a scene by scene copy, and everyone did their job just right. I left it alone, still reeling from the excellence of the original film. The audiences loved it, the critics liked it a lot, and suddenly it became ‘The’ film of the book. I waited almost two years to see it, when it came on television.
So, given all of the above, why didn’t I like it? Here’s a list of reasons why.
1) It was pointless.
2) The only purpose it served was to make the same film in English.
3) The first film was better, in every respect. Cast, atmosphere, sense of menace, acting.
4) Having A-listers like Craig makes you think of him in other roles, especially Bond. That makes it harder to take him seriously as a worn-out crusading journalist.
5) It didn’t have Noomi Rapace in it, and she owned the role as the girl.
6) It was pointless. (Did I mention that?)
I failed to be interested enough to even watch it past the first hour. Two weeks later, the Swedish film came on TV again, and I watched that, enjoying it even more the third time.
Just stick with the original, please.