The Girl Who Played With Fire
(Flickan som lekte med elden)
Part two of the Stieg Larsson trilogy brings a new scriptwriter. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a masterpiece of adaptation from film to book, and I think the first book is the best of three. The second film has to suffer in terms of plot.
Having said that, the acting throughout is wonderfully natural. As with the first, it’s good to see fine actors who haven’t had the pockmarks and wrinkles removed. Next to them any US movie star looks (and is) cosmetically enhanced. Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander is perfectly cast and as in the book stands out as the star.
One review said they thought Michael Nyqvist (playing journalist Mikael Blomkvist) was bland. No, subtle is the corrct word. They noted that only Lisbeth smokes (continually) in the film and Mikael doesn’t. In the audio book version we started to laugh whenever Mikael had a strong coffee and a cigarette, because he did every five minutes.
At the end, when Mikael arrives and finds Lisbeth horribly injured, he plays it real. Any Americanization would have had Tom Cruise (or whoever) wading in and seeing off the huge thug Niederman. Mikael is a man of peace. I mean, the guy drives a Toyota Prius. That last minute is the first point in the film where they meet, and that’s dictated by the plot. If you were starting off to write a film script from scratch, and it was a sequel, you would never choose to keep two characters with proven chemistry apart for the entire film.
The plot line about sex trafficking and the involvement of the police gets underplayed. Too much has to be summarised in quick explanatory conversations. The truly spooky Dr Teleborian (who locked Lisbeth up at age twelve) virtually disappears from the story, oddly as they’ll need him in part three. In this way, it loses some of the impact of the book. There’s a fair bit of IKEA product placing (and Mac product placing) but those both come directly from the book.
The fault as a movie is a big one. The story is complete in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, so the movie stands up on its own. The story in part two runs straight into part three, and the film is inconclusive without part three soon afterwards.
Another minus is that talking in the cinema lobby afterwards, everyone agreed that nothing in the film … streetscapes, scenery, characters … made anybody ever want to visit Sweden. The film lighting was atmospheric throughout, but it makes Stockholm look an unwelcoming and unattractive place and the countryside looks barren and dull. Having been there years ago, that’s not far off what I already felt. It won’t do anything for Swedish tourism. Don’t worry, you probably couldn’t afford Swedish prices anyway.