And now the movie…

Posted by Gail Gabrielson at 20 January 2011

Category: Review

Tags: ,

Last night HighGuy was out of town, so I rented the Swedish movie, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” It was a movie I was sure he’d hate, and I didn’t see anything good on TV, so it was a perfect night for it. I even invited my sister, LisaLu, in for the event.

Since it’s a Swedish movie, it had subtitles rather than being dubbed. That’s another reason I knew that HighGuy would hate this movie. I’m re-reading the book for Book Club, too, so I thought seeing the movie would be a nice piece of research.

The movie was very well done. I don’t know if the cast members were unknowns in Sweden, but the girl who played the girl with the dragon tattoo was perfect. The Swedes have already made the second book in the trilogy into a movie (which played at the Fargo Theatre), while Americans are just getting started on the first book, er, movie.

Our movie viewing experience was less than perfect since the DVD didn’t want to load at first, and then when it did load, it had a few stops and starts. And then of course, the telephone — both mine and LisaLu’s — had to ring. But since we were reading subtitles rather than trying to listen to words, it worked.

The movie left out some things — thankfully — because to try and put all of the first novel in the movie would have made the series more than a trilogy. It would have needed two or three movies just to tell the story in Dragon Tattoo. The book concentrated on more of the back story for each character, which added considerably to its length.

If you hadn’t read the book, seeing the movie might have been confusing. As the movie progressed, I asked LisaLu if she had any questions. I helped her straighten out the characters and make connections among them, and explained that when other characters called Mikael Blomkvist “Kalle Blomkvist,” it was like calling him “Nancy Drew.”

I also explained what made the character Lisbeth Salander so strange. She’d been raised in foster care after her mother had been institutionalized, having suffered brain damage at the hands of her boyfriend. There’s one flashback in which Lisbeth recalls throwing gasoline on the boyfriend in a car, and setting him on fire.

Lisbeth is likely a savant — she has a photographic memory and is a genius hacker of computers. She has contempt for anyone in authority and stonewalled anyone trying to judge her mental stability. So she was actually institutionalized herself for a while until a social worker/guardian was assigned to her who saw that Lisbeth was gifted, not retarded.

As a young woman, Lisbeth has found a job as a researcher with a security company. Her life is going fine until her guardian has a stroke and has to be replaced. His replacement is a sadistic pig and a rapist, a message that she tattoos on his abdomen as payback for raping her. She takes back control of her money and puts a few other conditions on their relationship. If he doesn’t follow HER rules, she will release the tape she made of his assault on her. Ain’t revenge sweet?

The movie doesn’t connect the dots between Lisbeth and Mikael very well. Lisbeth was charged with investigating Mikael for a security company client, Henrik Vanger, who wants to hire Mikael to write his biography. Mikael’s second and real task for Vanger is finding out who killed his great-niece, Harriet.

A Swede would also be able to connect the dots when Lisbeth hacks into Mikael’s computer. The subtitles don’t explain what’s happening on her screen, but does translate the writing when she makes the first real breakthrough on the murder case and she sends him a e-mail to lead him in the right direction. She leaves a trail for him to find her, too, and Mikael shows up at her door to ask her to join him in the investigation.

From there the story really takes off. You’d think that the story would be over when they discover that a Vanger family member is a murderer, but no, Lisbeth is still on the job — looking for Harriet and investigating another businessman that Mikael suspects of financial fraud. And both of those cases are resolved, too.

So all the story lines have been tied up. What can the second book include? It’s another murder case, and this time Lisbeth is implicated in it. I can’t wait to see that movie.

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