I have to say I had my doubts about David Fincher’s remake of Swedish adaptation Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. When I saw the original It blew me away, so naturally thought any attempt at a remake would pale in comparison. (Even though Fincher states this is an adaptation of the book not a remake of Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish film). But I will gladly admit Fincher has proven me wrong. It was pretty incredible! The opening credits alone were jaw dropping amazing; with striking imagery of a woman forming out of black liquid. It’s dark and edgy, playing out like the opening credits to a 007 film or some gritty metal music video with a ‘heart pounding track (Immigrant song by Karen O, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross) that sets the bar skyscraper high for the rest of the film. And I haven’t even got to the start of the film yet!
Fincher stays pretty close to the Swedish film, differing slightly in execution and minor plot details which are closer to Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel. But personally I think Niels Arden Oplev’s reworking of certain plot details worked better, bringing together the films two central characters quicker and in a more immediate and effective way unlike Fincher who, like Stieg Larsson, takes his time getting to the heart of the story. And for me that didn’t work as well.
It’s a lengthy film with a running time of 2 hours 40 minutes, but it whizzed by pretty quickly, and it was only at the end of the film I realised my bum had gone numb. There was so much going on; an intriguing murder case, political scandal, and abuse wrapped up in a hard-hitting, suspenseful 3 hours (almost). I waited over half the film before I could tear myself away to use the bathroom, even though I knew what happened. It was gripping stuff. But it could just as easily have ended up a car-crash-of-a-film (or just another typical Hollywood remake made for those lazy people who wont read subtitles) were it not for the wowing performance from Rooney Mara who plays the very guarded, unsociable, and troubled computer-hacker Lisbeth Salander. She was consistent throughout, engaging, and so convincingly damaged. I admit I was sceptical of anyone taking on the role of Salander after Noomi Rapace gave such a remarkable performance but Rooney Mara, an unknown actor to me before watching Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (I didn’t even recognise her from Fincher’s previous film Social Network) has truly captured my attention in such an impressive turn in an extremely challenging and demanding role. However I do prefer the Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish film, portrayed as a far more closed off and cold character; especially during the sex scenes with Mikael Blomkvist which in Fincher’s adaptation is more heated and passionate. But both adaptations have details in them which I prefer over the other so maybe I should just stop nit-picking and accept that both films are pretty awesome, just for different reasons. Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish film is very raw, gritty and somehow darker, made with far less money than Fincher’s rumoured $100 million adaptation. Fincher’s film is far more polished, and, well…..Hollywood. There’s just something about it which I can’t quite figure out that makes it seem bigger and meatier. Maybe it’s in those extra 8 minutes? One thing that bothered me about it and left me mystified though was why, when everyone else adopted a Swedish accent and Fincher chose to keep the film in Sweden with all the characters keeping their Swedish names, did Daniel Craig have an English accent????? Was his Swedish accent that bad they just let him off? It couldn’t have been worse than Robin Wright’s surely? But I’m nit picking again.
There is no arguing that both films are remarkable and both driven by two very different but equally strong actresses who take on the same role making it their own. And they are both supported by a cast of high calibre actors. These are two great films and I would recommend watching both; but if you’re lazy or don’t like subtitles (lazy) then watch Fincher’s film first so you don’t need to do so much reading during the Swedish adaptation. They are both worth the three-ish hours of your life you’ll be giving up to watch them. SO WATCH THEM!