Well, I did it. I saw The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Overall, it was a very good movie as I thought it would be but like any movie it had flaws. It had inconsistencies. And it definitely had its fair share of deviations from the book.
The biggest thing that bothered me throughout the entire movie was the accents. First off, I must laud Rooney Mara for doing an excellent job with the difficult Swedish accent. On Live! With Kelly, she mentioned that she worked with a dialect coach in order to perfect it. You can call that one a success. My complaint comes for Daniel Craig (Shocker, right? I swear it is the only thing I could find wrong with him…but of course, I am a little bias). Like I said, I realize that Swedish is a difficult accent to speak in but Daniel didn’t come close. It didn’t hit me at first but somewhere around 20 minutes into the movie I had this epiphany where the lightbulb went off and I leaned over to my mom saying, “His accent’s still British, isn’t it?” Don’t get me wrong. I’m no sucker for a British. Daniel’s pretty much the only man who can pull it off for me. But it would’ve been nice for his to be consistent with the others. The other person who I found had a different accent is probably a mistake on my part (maybe it was because I could understand him right off the bat whereas it took time to get used to everyone else’s accent). Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vagner. Well, he is Swedish and, therefore, should have the most natural accent. But, chalk it up to my uneducated ears possibly, his voice sounded almost American to me at times. I think I may have just been crazy on this one because obviously he knows what a Swedish accent sounds like.
There were somethings the varied from the book that stood out to me as well.
First off, Millennium was massively downplayed (including Mikael’s relationship with Berger). Other than office parties, the libel case, and the brief meeting with Vagner to discuss buying share in the magazine, it didn’t really get mentioned. The part where they start the publishing company under its name was bypassed because the mention of Mikael’s book was overlooked (Not sure how this is going to be handled in the second movie since that leads to publishing of the sex trade book). As far as his relationship with Berger, it wasn’t explained very well. I had to tell my parents, who saw the movie with me and have never read the book, what was really going on. Yeah, and Vagner’s role in the magazine. Other than showing him purchasing the shares, never mentioned (again, that kind of leads to Mikael’s relationship with Harriet in the next book so let’s see if that will be something they cut). I feel like because they downplayed the relationship between Berger and Mikael, it was feasible and very possible to bypass most of the scenes from the book dealing with Millennium because that only played a part in making their romance tumultuous but I really liked that aspect of the book so I was a little disappointed. I guess it’s all part of personal preference in this case.
Another thing that changed was Salander’s mother. In the book, while never explaining exactly why she’s there, she is in some kind of assisted living/nursing home. This never came up in the movie. In fact, the exact opposite was kind of mentioned. It is definitely possible that I don’t remember this but I’m pretty sure Salander’s father was never brought up in the book. In the movie, she tells Mikael that she was placed under the care of the state after she tried–and almost succeeded–killing her father. The reasons for her guardianship need was never openly said in the first book (That’s getting into The Girl Who Played With Fire) but that’s not anything I have read yet (Okay, so I’m still only like 220 pages in but I’ve got a pretty good idea of why she has a guardian and that’s not it).
The relationships in the movie were a little off anyway. I thought that Mikael’s closeness to the Vagner family was underplayed in the movie. I got the idea that they–meaning Henrik, Cecilia, Martin–got relatively close to Mikael (Obviously, Cecilia did since they had an affair, which was never mentioned in the movie). However, I didn’t get that same feeling from the movie. I felt like Mikael was still the outsider and never really became friends with any of them–especially Henrik. Again, this is probably just a personal thing but it bothered me.
The last thing (okay, things) that were changed will make the seeing how the second movie is handled interesting. There were quite a few things that I picked up on happening in this movie that take place in the second book. Like Palmgren’s stroke. Yes, that happened in the first book. But Salander thought he was going to die. She doesn’t find out about his survival and go to help him until the second book when she has all of Wennerstrom’s money and is a more compassionate person. I don’t know. This seems like an important part of the second book to be (Probably because it almost made me cry and I like things like this whether or not it actually plays a significant role). And Bjurman going to look at tattoo removal doesn’t happen until the second book either. Okay, this isn’t a big deal but bells were ringing in my head, saying something’s not right here when I picked up on it. The other thing may or may not have an effect on the second movie–the change to the ending. Instead of going to Anita and then finding Harriet in Australia, well, I don’t want to give it away but something different happens and I don’t know how it will be handled having Harriet come back to Vagner Corporation. But don’t be alarmed! As promised, the ending makes sense and fits the plot pretty well. It’s just not what really happened. And it definitely helped cut down on the duration of the movie.
Speaking of the duration of the movie. It was 2 hours and 38 minutes…and it didn’t seem like it. Having just seen Breaking Dawn, which I was ready for to be over in the first 10 minutes and was just massively drawn out, it was refreshing for the movie to cause the suspension of disbelief while being just the right length. It was the case that many of the things I’m picking out were probably cut to save time. With this movie, it’s certainly a case of do you want all the detail of the book and be there for the entire day or do you want something cut while staying true to the plot so you aren’t in the theater all day. Since neither of my parents had any prior knowledge of the plot other than the little bit I talked about while in the process of reading the book, they both told me that it didn’t seem like it was that long (something that is rarely said when it come to a movie I pick to see: Inception, Black Swan, Breaking Dawn–ok, that was Mom’s pick but it was just way too long for that crap plot).
Other successes of the movie were abundant. The acting and cinematography were very well done. The script stayed very true to the book. Everything of importance was explained well enough for those in the audience like my parents to understand. I was fearful that the whole Martin picking up where Gottfried left off and what they did to Harriet wouldn’t be explained well enough. Even keeping track of the Vagners was not all that difficult in the movie (well, if you already had an idea of who was who).
Having been one of those people who initially complained about all the exposition and the ending continuing after Harriet’s appearance, I was weary about if the movie would be paced in a way to keep your interest on the screen. The production team took care of this one very well as I paid attention the entire time and I’m usually letting my mind wander halfway through a movie this long (or at least, looking at my phone to see how much longer I have to sit there). Even the more sensitive parts of the movie were handled brilliantly. As I noted a few posts ago, I was scared of seeing the rape scene (The Last House on the Left remake ruined me for anything that involves rape. Can you say overly graphic?) but it wasn’t all that bad. Yeah, it wasn’t something you want to see happen but it’s a necessary part of the story and it was not too graphic. None of the sexual acts that happen are. Fincher said he wasn’t going to softened anything, which he did not, but he made it less painful to watch than it could have been. My mom would argue that he did not do that with the murder of the cat but it was something that had to be shown (and I warned her about it, seeing as we are both huge animal lovers).
Overall, the movie lived up to all the expectations I had set for it in my mind. I will definitely being buying it the day it comes out and cannot wait until the release of The Girl Who Played With Fire in 2013. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to keep reading the books and get around to watching the Swedish versions, which I’m sure are much less different from the books.