From A Dream House to A Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

Published December 20, 2011 by jrm17

In the fall of last year, I took a film course for my major (Ok, maybe it was because I thought we’d watch a lot of movies and because the professor is one of my favorites).  That was when I’d first heard the buzz about it: the U.S. version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and somewhere along the road I semi fell in love with Kalle Blomkvist and kind of want to be Lisbeth Salander or, at the very least, Erika Berger.

I had never really been interested in reading the books or seeing the movie…and then I saw Daniel Craig in Dream House.  Not many times do I see a movie and find very little wrong with it.  Not many times am I willing to experience the suspension of disbelief for a movie.  Why?  Because I took that film class and I’d rather sit and find everything wrong with movies.  There are a few movies where I don’t do this–Sweet Home Alabama, Interview with a Vampire, Black Swan, Inception, Shutter Island–and Dream House definitely falls into this category.

I went in expecting a horror movie as it appeared to be in the commercials.  In reality, it’s more of a psychological thriller.  It’s a little more Inception and a little less Amityville Horror than I thought it would be…but I was totally cool with that once the movie started. 

The acting, as far as I’m concerned, was very good.  I’m not into James Bond movies so I didn’t really have anything to compare Craig’s acting to but I was impressed.  His role was a difficult one to portray as he had to switch from what was happening in reality to what was happening in his head.  Naomi Watts did an excellent job as Craig’s neighbor, who knows everything that’s going on but does her best not to let on.  Rachel Weisz and Taylor and Claire Geare did well at concealing their existence, leaving the audience to figure out whether they are real or not. 

I’ve read a lot of reviews that said while the premise was interesting, it didn’t correlate well to on-screen or that the plot was just too jumpy to be understandable or even people saying it was too predictable.  Well, I didn’t see any of that.  I thought the plot was very interesting.  It was finally something different that we all haven’t seen a million times before.  It was a movie  I was glad I forked over the money for.  As far as it being jumpy, it had to be that way because you don’t know what’s reality.  And being predictable?  That’s just nuts.  I saw it with my parents.  My mom and I basically had it figured out but it wasn’t like we knew everything 10 minutes in…and we’re really good at figuring out movies.  My dad liked it once we explained everything to him afterwards.  The cinematography was excellent and editing was good as well.  There have been numerous complaints that I have read and maybe I’m just going to easy on this movie but I really liked it.  Then again, I’m about the only person on the planet who didn’t like The Social Network (Seriously?  Did people actually find this interesting?  And how much acting does it really take to play Mark Zuckerberg?)

Anyway, none of that is my point.  My point is that I’m thoroughly excited about going to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  There were some initial complaints I had while reading the book: it took about 350 pages to get to Salander and Blomkvist meeting, the ending kept going after all the Vagner stuff was over, the Wennerström back story.  But I’m somewhere about 200 pages into The Girl Who Played With Fire and I’m okay with everything I hated to begin with.  I see that it’s all necessary for the trilogy as a whole.  You need the back story.  You need all the exposition prior to the meeting between the protagonists.  You definitely need the ending involving Salander in order for the second book to even exist.  The writing was brilliant–though I’m sure Stieg Larsson’s original Swedish version is a million times better…if only I knew Swedish.  And the plot is captivating.  Normally, I wouldn’t pick up a thriller novel but I’m glad I did with this one.

The casting seems to be good in this movie as well.  Since Daniel Craig is basically the reason I’m going to see it and read the book in the first place, obviously I think he will be a good Mikael Blomkvist.  Rooney Mara made her rounds on the morning talk shows yesterday and I made sure to catch her on Live! with Kelly.  I only recently realized that she was in The Social Network (Really, I was just trying to figure out where all the praise was deserved and why I was watching it) and that she was also in A Nightmare on Elm St (It wasn’t very good and I couldn’t get past Freddy not being Robert Englund, Katie Cassidy trying to be a high school student, and Kellan Lutz dying like 10 seconds in–he was pretty much why I was seeing it).  I’m confident that she will do a good job based on what I’ve seen her do previously (Now that I’m aware I’ve seen her acting before) and from what I’ve seen in the previews.  She looks the part.  She may be a little tall and conventionally pretty but I think overall, her transformation into Lisbeth Salander looks believable.

I have one concern with the movie and it’s nothing that can be avoided: all the rape and torture.  I’m weary about having to see Salander getting raped by her guardian and I’m not really looking forward to everything with Martin Vagner and his hobbies either.  I haven’t seen the Swedish version of the movie (It’s on my laptop waiting for me to watch it before the 21st…We’ll see if I get around to it) but these scenes are not something I’m thrilled about.  It’s one thing reading it in a book–I’ve heard some people say they actually skipped those pages–but it’s a whole different story to actually watch it.  I found out that in terms of Salander, you don’t actually see anything but the pain on her face, which can be disturbing in itself.  One of the worst rape scenes I’ve ever seen is the one in the remake of Last House on The Left and I refuse to watch that scene ever again because it was far to graphic.  Based on what happens in the book, there’s no way to avoid sexual abuse–I mean it is a central theme in the series considering Salander’s past.  I’m sure it was handled tastefully though considering it got an R rating despite the director’s promise not to soften the book (But then again for those of us who have seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated, we know just how corrupt and jacked up the MPAA is).

Despite my concerns, I’m going to see the movie and I’m betting that I will enjoy it as much as I did the book.  I don’t think it will disappoint–even though the ending has been changed from that of the book (Don’t fret.  I’ve heard that it still makes sense).  I have a feeling that even if I don’t like the movie, I will see the entire trilogy.  I like the books and will read them all so it’ll end up like Twilight, where I’ve read the books so I will see the movies no matter how stupid I think they are.

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