Thursday, December 29, 2011
Photo: Rooney Mara, from her Wikipedia page. She and Lisbeth Salander look nothing alike. I mean that in a positive way, for both.
The blog for the book will come soon. Just finished it.
But first the movie.
The movie was a must-see on many levels: the genre of the movie and book (as you should know by now, I dig the murder/mystery thing); the positive hype of both; and, perhaps most importantly, David Fincher, the director.
First, a word about him. Impressive credits, especially Zodiac. I know he directed Se7en, a good movie but very overrated. The Social Network was a great film, about technology that has undoubtedly changed many lives (except mine; still don't have a Facebook account)--but, still, a movie about a nerdy, ingenious, socially inept guy, who may or may not have stolen the idea, the rights, and who knows what else. Not my cup of tea for a subject, but an admittedly great film. I believe Zodiac and now this movie will push him into the upper-echelon of movie buffs (Fincher's been there for the pros for some time now). I like Fincher's directing style and the intensity of his films: The Social Network was intense for its genre. The others are just...intense. Fight Club, for instance. (Good, not great.) Haven't seen Benjamin Button or Panic Room. They're on my list of things to do.
I also wanted to see this because Steven Zaillian wrote it. He penned the 'plays for Schindler's List (one of the all-time great screenplays) and for Gangs of New York, also a great screenplay (Daniel Day-Lewis should've won the Oscar for that one). Of course, he also wrote American Gangster, which was okay, but I'll pass, and Hannibal, which was just bad. But I'm a return customer for Schindler and Gangs.
Daniel Craig is always good, and it's good to see him do something well besides James Bond. (Speaking of which, it's about time for another, yes?) He's a good actor who has not, and will not, get the credit he deserves. Women swoon over him. While he's essentially a non-violent Bond in this film, he still played it well. He's got the Bond charm and charisma going, but he still had other facets going on that went over well. (Those shots where he's learning something, and the camera stays on his thoughtful and learning face--well, rumor has it that he was simply counting to ten all that time. He says he counts to ten when he's told he needs to show understanding and learning on film.)
But the cream of the crop here was Rooney Mara, as Lisbeth Salander. According to Wikipedia, she beat out Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson for the role. I like the first and am lukewarm by the latter, and they're both too hyped these days. Mara came out of nowhere. She played bit parts in several TV shows, a major part in the Nightmare on Elm Street remake (all good actors have to start with a bad horror film, apparently. See Johnny Depp, Renee Zellweger and too many others to mention), and a small role in Fincher's Social Network. (Both say that her part in his most recent film did not help her to get The Girl.)
Her character on film is even more realistic than the one on paper I have just finished reading. That never happens, at least for me. Without going into much detail, she absolutely nailed this role. One of the things she did in the film (and possibly this is Fincher's and Zaillian's doing as well) that Salander didn't do in the book was to stay consistent with her mono-syllabic answers and otherwise clipped speech patterns--even to those she liked or cared for. Frankly, she spoke too often (in spurts) in the book; I have known people (exactly) like Lisbeth Salander, and you'll have to take my word that such folks do not normally converse. They staccato you, or they rant at you, but they don't converse. Mara didn't in the movie, either.
In my life, I have seen a Lisbeth Salander many times. I've seen the anorexia, the internal fury, the speech patterns, the behavior, the anger in the eyes, the massive insecurity, the abuse, the addictions--In short, I've seen it all. She owned it. This movie should be seen for her performance alone. (I dare you to recognize the woman in the film as the one pictured above, but they are the same.)
Sweden itself gives a good performance, too, if you know what I mean. (I know about 40% of the internal shots were filmed in L.A.) It's obviously beautiful and cold there. The free education intrigues me, but the violence and rape stats in this trilogy--and in the many books by Henning Mankell--do not paint a pretty picture. Both authors (I know Larsson has died) try to say that the stats are horrific, possibly even worse than the U.S.'s. For now, I'd like to visit there, but not live there. Of course, I can say that about almost anywhere.
And the movie has a lot of nice touches not in the book, which I'll leave alone for now. Suffice it to say that they involve the whereabouts of a missing woman and a car crash. The movie also breaks a few rules; the big one is that the movie, like the book, continues on for quite awhile after the main mystery has been solved. I approve, especially because it is done largely for the sake of characterization. Rare, these days.
More on this, and the book, later. Go see it, even if you've already read it. And I'll be proactive and say that you should read it, too, even if you've already seen the movie.