Last night, The Boy and I finally got around to watching David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I had waited to see it because I kept wanting to read the book. I have this thing about reading books before seeing movie adaptations… However, I’ve tried three times to get through Stieg Larsson’s runaway hit and I just can’t. I don’t know if it’s the translation making some of the phrasing a bit odd for me or the fact that Mikael just isn’t that interesting a character and he’s in the first part of the book.
After seeing the movie, I definitely think the latter is true. If it weren’t for the natural charisma of Daniel Craig, I would really give a flying fuck about Mikael and his journalistic issues. There’s a reason that Lisbeth Salander is the titular girl with the dragon tattoo. She is an amazing character, played brilliantly by the Oscar-nominated newcomer Rooney Mara. Lisbeth has had a hard life, filled with violence and mental illness and, some have argued, autism. She has been touted as a feminist hero, though that can also be argued, especially since she takes revenge upon her rapist by raping him. I have to say, those scenes were really hard to watch. Raping your rapist makes you a rapist. That’s not okay, in any moral world. It just keeps the rape happening. Though, the outward marking of him as a perpetrator of violence against women was an interesting revenge fantasy played out, since so many rapists walk free and you can’t tell by “looking” at someone. Also, the massive amount of violence against women, detailed and shown in photographs and flashbacks, seemed to want to be a part of some anti-misogynist statement, yet is very much based on a misogynist form of storytelling.
Still… I enjoyed the film. I thought the pacing was great. The performances were either good or very good and I wanted to know what was going to happen and why. That’s the mark of a good thriller, in my book. Yes, I felt that the motivations for why this Nazi-ish guy tortures women were left unexplored (perhaps not in the book), but I felt a connection to Lisbeth. She’s amoral and I don’t agree with her revenge methods, but she’s compelling. And, the one true feminist aspect of this story is that she saves the day. She’s the doer. She solves the case and she saves the man in distress. It was refreshing to see that, especially with a character that has been sexualized, but not in a “Wanted”/Angelina Jolie-type way. She’s hot because she’s Lisbeth and will kick your ass, not that she will kick your ass and you want to watch because she is hot.
I’m still not sure I’ll ever read the book, but I will probably rent the second film, if it ever gets made. Or suck it up and watch the Swedish versions… I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I hate watching thrillers with subtitles. My brain can’t handle both… I get confused enough with mysteries when it’s in English.