Friday, 30 December 2011

Girl with the dragon tattoo times two

Last night the Gen and  I went to the movies, to see the American remake of the Larsson story, starring R. Mara, D. Craig, directed by Fincher. We like Fincher. I’m a great fan of the original movie starring Nyqvist and Rapace and directed by Oplev as well and of all three books by the (supposedly) late Stieg Larsson. Perhaps not so much the second and third installments, but the first movie, Män som hatar kvinnor  (Men who hate women) I really liked. I knew it would be difficult to watch this soonish remake, because it is almost the exact copy of the original and yet trying desperately to be entirely different.

Standalone, it’s an excellent film. I think. The actors, director and cinematographer are actually doing a really good job. Craig is okay, although he feels a bit too tired and quite oddly thin for my taste, wearing tight jeans and falling all over. His face when she pulls down her undies and the walkie-talkie alarm code: Fuck fuck fuck is hilarious. Understandably he’s been aiming to remove himself from any Bond affiliation, but compared to Nyqvist he’s sort of like rice-paper to cardboard. Rooney Mara on the other hand, is amazing. She’s this dark punk ninja pixie that you can’t wait to see and hear next. If I had never seen any other version of her I would instantly love her. She’s a little rough diamond. I long to watch her again and I hope she inspires some cool deep heroines in the future.
         Other actors did a good job as well. I especially loved the part where they all speak with the something of a Norse accent, except maybe Skarsgard, who is actually Swedish – he speaks perfect American. It was good to see Robin Wright Penn and Joely Richardson again, wearing very little make-up, old women that they are and still so very beautiful. And the casting of the rapist social worker was good. He displayed a great measure of paternal fondness and sadistic fucked-upness at the same time. In the original movie Bjurman (Bear man) is instantly repulsive.
         The rape scene was powerful. Possibly one of the worst in history of cinema. I tried to warn my friend that this story contains a tremendously savage rape and she asked me if it will be graphic and I admitted that in an American version, I just don’t know. For a moment it actually seemed like it will be skipped altogether, but Fincher decided to go with it and delivered it all. It certainly splits you down the middle and makes you very, very happy this is only a movie.
… And so on and so forth. If you haven’t seen the original and like the genre, I coldly recommend it (I would say warmly, but it takes place in winter Sweden, so… You wish.). If you had read the books and seen the Swedish version, then perhaps wait a few decades. Even the Bond-like opening credits will confuse you. Seriosuly, what WAS that?

Now for the bad parts.
         There is too much of everything in this one film. Too many gruesome murders. Like, three times as much. Everyone seemed to be raping everyone in that family, too. It would have been good enough to leave it at “You will be investigating thieves, misers, bullies. The most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet -  My family.” Everyone knows how that feels and yet often it’s just family rivalry and things aren’t really as bad. It leaves the speculations and the mysteries opened. No need to over-sell it. Lots of stuff from the other two parts of the trilogy are crammed in here and also several parts that aren’t in the story at all.
         Regardless of how excellent Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth is, Rapace’s is a whole lot better. More realistic, a lot tougher, a lot more unique and troubled looking even without the elaborate make-up and hair-cut. They are both supposed to look like troubled little girls, but Rooney’s looks about twelve and cute whereas Rapace’s looks old and hard. Perhaps these indeed are the European and the American editions. Very well to the point in fact.
         In the Swedish version, it is she that helps him and then he is the one who falls for her. In the American it’s him who finds her and she is the one who then follows him around with big loving puppy eyes, hoping to be loved. Kind of defeats the point of Lisbeth, doesn’t it?
         However good the casting in the American version was, the original was better. Then again the sort of appeal that original cast has isn’t really clear enough for the American standards. People need to be cuter, thinner and more hysterical and their hair always needs to be perfect, unless of course there’s something deeply wrong with them, in which case the hair is slightly tussled. There also needs to be more guns and winning fights and possibly airplane travel in American versions. And exactly how Lisbeth cleared the Cayman accounts needs to be told frame by frame, otherwise people wouldn’t really get it. Like… What the Hell are bonds, right?  
         I preferred the role of the missing girl in the original film. How she was Mika’s babysitter and how she actually moved to Australia and had a good life there. The solitary playing fake identity lady played by Richardson didn’t really make much sense.
         What the fuck was that with the cat?!