Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

06 January 2012


I have been running around a bit like a crazy person in California – seeing friends and actually going to the theatre (I saw Fela! and loved it a couple days ago) – and I have also been trying to see movies, mostly without success. A week or so ago I caught the new David Fincher/Steven Zaillian version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (Not to be confused with the Swedish version of tGwtDT directed by Niels Arden Oplev, released in the U.S. just last year.)

The opening credits are awesome, with the typical Finch touches and an awesome, pulsating, truly astounding score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Right away I was excited and pretty well hooked.

It's impossible to talk about this 2011 film, though, without comparing it to its Swedish predecessor. And, for my money, Fincher's version doesn't quite measure up to the movie it follows. Some comparisons:

Fincher's film is sexier than Oplev's... with Daniel Craig in the leading role that was pretty much a given. I liked the film in a sexier version – it was especially nice to see some heterosexual sexual activity in the film that wasn't degrading and violent and horrible (most of the film's sexual content is very violent.)

Fincher's film approaches rape slightly differently than Oplev's does. The terrible rape sequence in the center of the film was approached so humanely and terrifically in Oplev's film that I was very curious to see how Fincher would do this. But Fincher's film sees Rooney Mara as a sex object (understandably), and Fincher approaches the rape sequence in much the same way that he approaches his other sex scenes. I missed this terrifying, horrific aspect of the rape in Oplev's film. And, actually, I think the way Fincher does it leaves a bit of a plot-hole. (Not that Lisbeth's revenge on her rapist is unjustified, just that it seems less justified in Fincher's movie.)

For me, as well, the mystery-plot aspect of the story is more pronounced in Oplev's film. This may be simply because I already knew the solution to the mystery... There is no way around this, of course, because I saw Oplev's last year and I saw Fincher's this year, but I felt like there just wasn't as much mystery-solving in this new film. Who knows. My only other gripe is that I thought the villain in Fincher's film was not nearly as scary. The actor playing the villain is intentionally underplaying things, and that's fine as far as it goes, but I just wasn't has horrified or scared of him and I wasn't nearly as revolted by this film's villain as I was by Oplev's villain.

All that to say, it's still a really good film that I liked a lot. I guess... well, I am not sure why we needed this film. It's been literally just over a year since the other one was here and Fincher and Zaillian's reimagining of the plot is not different enough to really merit an entirely new movie. I sort of don't get it.