Salander on the big screen

'Dragon Tattoo' film maintains book's character

For Blomkvist, Fincher chose Daniel Craig, so well established as the latest 007 that you can’t see him in anything else without thinking about Mr. Bond. More importantly, to cast Salander, Fincher skirted the begging of every big young actress in Hollywood and went with Rooney Mara.

They were wise choices. Mara’s Salander is brilliant, menacing, cold, lethal and, when it’s needed, very dry on the humorous side. Craig, as Blomkvist, flaunts macho tendencies even though, as he looks into the messed-up Vanger clan, he knows he’s getting into further trouble. An extra bravo goes to the great Christopher Plummer, whose Henrik Vanger gives a heart to the tale.

Fincher has made a Dragon Tattoo where time flies by, the cold of Sweden is mercilessly reinforced and you’re absorbed into the minute details, like one hilarious T-shirt Salander wears (not to be repeated here) and the strategic use of Enya, even if you know every blasted detail already. And that was the rub.

Much as I enjoyed and respected the film, like any person who’s combed through the Larsson books I brought in a mental checklist, just to see where, or if, Fincher strayed from the well-known narrative.

In short, not that much, and that’s quite a feat. Fincher and screenwriter Steve Zaillian do take a few shortcuts, combining some plot points and choosing not to use a few of the extraneous details. Also, the characters of Erika Berger, Blomkvist’s co-worker and married lover, and Dragan Armansky, the security consultant who hires Salander, are minimized a bit.

As to the notorious stuff, the scene of rape and torture on Salander by her guardian, Nils Bjurman, is tough to watch, but not as graphic as you might think. What makes it tolerable is that you know Salander will get her payback, and when she does, it’s quite satisfying.

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