Friday, April 30, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The Movie



Let me begin by admitting that I haven’t actually read Strieg Larsson’s megahit trilogy. I have a problem with long books, and not even listening to Steve rhapsody lyrically about them for weeks was enough to tempt me (especially when he uttered those fatal words, “The beginning is rather slow.”) But like a good wife, I went with him to see the subtitled Swedish movie when it played at a New Orleans indie theater last night. And now? Well, I can’t wait to see the next two Swedish installments. I’m even tempted to read the books.

This is not a glitzy Hollywood production aimed at the lowest common denominator; nor is it one of your typical European art films. It is instead a well-acted, hauntingly filmed thriller with rich, complex characters and an exquisite sense of foreboding and dread heightened by an ominous musical score. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a movie this much (although given the subject matter, “enjoyed” might not be the best word).

Lisbeth Salander is indeed a wonderful character: brilliant but damaged, a victim who makes Dirty Harry look like a wimp when it comes to revenge. Since my tolerance for graphic brutality is rather low, I was expecting to have to shut my eyes in a few places, given the number of reviews I read complaining about the film’s images of violence. Instead, I was left going, “Huh?”

Yes, there are scenes of violence against women, but nothing we haven’t seen before. And when Lisbeth takes her revenge on the man who brutalized her, I suspect every woman in the audience was quietly cheering, You go, girl! Which may in fact be the source of those complaints about the images of brutality: you see, our society has been conditioned to depictions of violence against women. But sexual violence against men? Not so much.

Which is interesting when you consider that the Swedish name of this book/film is NOT “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The original, Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women.

17 comments:

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh, oh, oh...I can't WAIT to see this. I've read the first two books and they are incredible. Lisbeth Salander is unlike any character I've come across.

Steve Malley said...

What to do, what to do...

I made a couple stabs at reading the first book. I think at the furthest, I got 150 pages in before Procterizing.

But this is the power of good word of mouth, I guess. Now I'm thinking, time to give that movie a chance...

Steve Malley said...

What to do, what to do...

I made a couple stabs at reading the first book. I think at the furthest, I got 150 pages in before Procterizing.

But this is the power of good word of mouth, I guess. Now I'm thinking, time to give that movie a chance...

Charles Gramlich said...

I might see the movie. I'm pretty clear that I won't be reading the books.

cs harris said...

Melissa, it's definitely worth seeing. The other three people I went to see the movie with had read the book, and all loved the movie.

Steve, at least see the movie. Even those who like them admit the books are slow at first.

Charles, I think you'd enjoy it.

orannia said...

The beginning is rather slow..

See, those words would give me pause too, unless I'm in the mood for something slow. I just finished Flesh & Spirit (Carol Berg) [fantasy] and yes the beginning was slow but it was so good. I love a character-based book!

I haven't read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo either...am intrigued that the title was changed. I wonder if the publisher thought the book wouldn't be bought with the original title...

Not sure if the movie is out here yet. We're a little behind :)

Susan/DC said...

"Which may in fact be the source of those complaints about the images of brutality: you see, our society has been conditioned to depictions of violence against women. But sexual violence against men? Not so much."

This comment echoes something I read about why the movie "Deliverance" was so shocking -- for once it was the man who was raped, not the woman. For once the men in the audience could not disassociate from the violence, vulnerability, and fear experienced by the victim.

As for "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", I'm waiting for my son to read it and pass it on to me.

Pax Deux said...

Read it! Read It!!!

I have read both, Girl/Tattoo and Girl who Played with Fire, and LOVED THEM. Personally, much more interesting than the Bourne series, because the politics is explicit and in your face.

I was intrigued by your analysis about why the violence has been discussed as "shocking." I mean, the violence in "Transformers" is shocking because it is utterly needless and boring to boot. Here, not so much.

And yet, I do have a friend who suggests that the director (and perhaps even book's author) wandered into voyeur territory with the depictions.

Nevertheless... READ Them! ;-)

cs harris said...

Orannia, I've noticed that when I have a lot of time, I don't mind slow. The problem is I'm usually so rushed these days. As for the title, there's a nonfiction self-help book entitled "Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them" so that might have been part of the motive for the title change.

Susan, I thought about Deliverance, too. Someone I was talking to today said they thought the scene with Lisbeth taking her revenge was so shocking because we don't often see a woman so coldly engaging in violent revenge.

Pax Deux, I suspect sexual violence always has an element of voyeurism. And I would like to read them--maybe sitting on my porch swing up at the lake.

catherin911 said...

I have read all three books-they are super!! Such intelligent writing. Saw the movie last week and really enjoyed it. I read that an American version (possibly with George Clooney) is being planned;couldn't see how it could be done;but after seeing the movie, just as a serial killer story and not so much all the Swedish business and economic plots-certainly is possible

cs harris said...

Catherine, I think it would be hard to top the Swedish movie, but it will be interesting to see the Hollywood version and compare.

Anonymous said...

Check out these pics of Rooney Mara in the American Adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo http://bit.ly/eCDdP0

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