Monday, November 09, 2009
Niels Arden Oplev's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Danish film director Niels Arden Oplev was in my neighborhood on Saturday to show his film of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor in the original Swedish), at the American Film Institute (which is about 4 blocks from my house). Several things to remark about the film: First, from Oplev's comments, he says that he was determined to use only Swedish actors, for verisimilitude, a wise difference from the normal Euro-TV practice of placing German or French or Italian actors in key roles (to buy off international collaborators among the producers, I presume). Oplev was actually very funny in his comments, with the starting point that he at first refused the project without having read the book, dismissing it as a thriller, only to accept later after the producers contacted him again and he remarked to his neighbor that he'd been offered the project--the neighbor immediately went in her house and brought him the book to read, which he took as an omen. One point to make about the film is that there has been some criticism of the choice of Noomi Rapace in the role of Lisbeth Salander--unfounded criticism based perhaps on the "glamor" shot of her (pasted into this post), which makes her look older and not as small and boyish as Larsson's Lisbeth: in the film itself, she fulfills the requirements not only in physical appearance but in the manner with which she conducts herself in her embodiment of the character. She's very good, playing her as withdrawn, angry, and cautious in her relations with people--though not as an Asperger's victim (or any other kind of victim). The rest of the cast is also good, Michael Nyqvist as Blomkvist is very natural in the role. Two of the actors are a bit distracting for anyone who has seen the Beck Swedish TV series: Peter Haber, who plays Beck as a normal guy in the series, is here quite spooky and complex; and Ingvar Hirdwall, who is, I believe, Beck's weird and comic neighbor in the series, is here quite natural and normal. The plot of the story is handled very well by Oplev, reducing some of the long passages of research in the book to short collages to get the story down from about 600 pages to 2.5 hours, but there are a couple of plot points that are changed--one in particular (that I won't go into to prevent plot spoilers) seems to leave a big hole regarding the relationship between 2 central characters, something that will have to be explained or justified in the next film which turns in considerable part on the missing detail. But altogether a very satisfying film version of a book that must have presented the director and his writers with a lot of problems in the translation from text to film: highly recommended to the fans of the book as well as anyone who hasn't read the book.