Last night David and I were invited to an early screening of the much-anticipated David Fincher film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and to day I was excited to see the film would be an understatement. I fell in love with the Dragon Tattoo story and characters last year after I watched the original Swedish films and have been very much looking forward to Fincher’s English language version. I have to tell you right up front, I LOVED Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo immensely. And, surprisingly, I liked it even more than I liked the original film. This version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is unequivocally one of the best films of 2011.
Because I just finished the Dragon Tattoo novel, written by Stieg Larsson, last week I am in the enviable position of having the original story fresh in my mind. As I read the book, I was surprised by a lot of details that were not presented in the Swedish film. Fincher’s version is as close to the novel as you can get without it being word-for-word exact. David Fincher is a master at telling dark stories. Yes there is violence and mayhem but he manages to package those kinds of stories in a very palatable way. Rooney Mara is a revelation. No disrespect meant to the orignal star of Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, but Mara IS Lisbeth Salander. Mara’s version of the character, for me, was the character in the book come to life … flesh and blood. There are some actresses, like Meryl Streep, that are able to utterly and completely transform themselves for a role — Rooney Mara is one of those actresses. She so completely became Lisbeth Salander that Rooney was just … gone. Daniel Craig, as Mikael Blomkvist, is just perfect … and yet, as fantastic as he is in this film … all you can see or want to see is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. I hate to keep talking in comparisons but I am dead serious when I say that Fincher’s film is more like the book than the original Swedish film is. The electricity, the detail, the power of the book is harnessed in this new film. Yes there are some omissions (every film just omit something from the books they are based on) but none that take away from the meat of the novel. Even the changed ending is handled in such a way that fans of the book will love this new film, I promise.
I had hoped that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would meet my high expectations … but I did not expect the film to exceed those expectations. Never have I enjoyed a 3ish hour movie before in my life. I’m already anxious to see the movie again … no kidding. I have a few new films that I must see but I will be making time to see Dragon Tattoo again and again and again. Author Stieg Larsson struck a collective never with his tale of heroine Lisbeth Salander and David Fincher managed to find a way to take the words that Larsson committed to paper and make them come to life on the big screen. It’s hard for me to decide who is the bigger talent … Fincher or Mara. Thankfully, in this instance, I don’t have to make that determination … because the pair of them work together in concert in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to bring us one of if not THE best film of 2011.0