Adaptation isn’t easy. Remember way, way back when we were little fishies who tried to get up out of the primordial ooze and had to suddenly grow some lungs? That was pretty hard as I recall. It was an awkward phase. We didn’t know what the heck to do with the new lungs. But soon we were breathing, then fancy-breathing (you know, panting, sighing, gasping in shock), then smoking. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a book that had to turn into a movie somehow. And it was awkward and painful too, like all adaptation.
Now, as some of you may know, I like to see sweet-ass cool girls in my popular media because it is fun for me to be like, “wow, that character is doing cool stuff while having boobs!” I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher) on Christmas with my family. It was not very merry or family friendly. Then I read the book, because I felt like I was missing a lot of key dragon-y ingredients, like why it was called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when you only see the tattoo like one time and no one ever talks about it. The book didn’t answer my question (I think they should have called it The Adventures of Hacker Girl on Murder Island), but it was fun to see the differences between fishie and lung-fishie.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the book (Steig Larsson) is a lot more pro-lady. A big difference was hacker misanthrope protagonist Lisbeth Salander’s relationship with her guardian, Advokat Bjurman (so Swedish). Now, I’m a lady, too, so when I describe some of the not family friendly aspects of the story, I’ll do so using Swedish euphemisms. In the first really disturbing part of this relationship, Lisbeth Salander has to eat Bjurman’s Swedish Fish. In the book, he really crams it in her mouth, but in the movie she doesn’t want to but sort of does it anyway so she can get money for a computer. Later, in the movie Bjurman bork borks Salander with his Swedish chef, whereas in the book he just uses something from IKEA. Movie Bjurman is Swedish meatballs deep in her Stockholm for several extremely unsettling minutes (especially if you’re sitting next to your dad and little brother in the theater on Christmas) and it’s sort of perversely from Bjurman’s perspective. The book presents it through Salander’s experience and there is much less time devoted to it, but you go through the painful bloody after-effects and recovery with her. Also, in the movie she goes to his house for this scene seemingly to get more money, whereas in the book she goes for the express purpose of setting Bjurman up on camera and it gets out of hand.
Still, movie Salander (Rooney Mara) is the highlight of the movie. I discovered about myself that I am not particularly fascinated by Swedish financial reporting, and that even Daniel Craig cannot make that occupation sexy to me. The murder mystery plot in the film was uninteresting and muddled as well because twenty billion characters get introduced and then one of them turns out to be the murdererduhsnooze. The who-dunnit is never as interesting as the why-dunnit, and in this case, the why-dunnit was sort of “just because”. Larsson’s book version was more interesting, but the Blomkvist (Craig) parts were still not nearly as cool as the Salander parts, even though in the book he is much, much, sluttier. (Why, movie, did you make Blomkvist less of a prostitute and Salander more of a prostitute? It better not be because of what kind of underwears they need.)
It’s not just Salander either. The movie makes an important kick-ass Australian business maven into a wimpy, fearful, travel agent or bank teller or something, and a complex long-term sexual friendship into a promiscuous lesbian hook up. Also, book Salander falls in love, which is a critical step for her character’s personal growth. In the movie, she just gets naked and then jealous.
In the book they drink a hilarious amount of coffee, and there is a description of what an iPod is (“a device the size of a matchbox that could hold her entire CD collection”).
At the risk of editorializing in this totally objective review, I realize that things need to be adapted in an adaptation. I’m no jive turkey. I’m just disappointed that the ladies lost out in the adaptation of a story starring a fresh, captivating, strong female. The result was a disturbing smoking lung-fish with Daniel Craig’s face. Do better, movies!
Aside from that, it was pretty good and I liked it.