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Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Girl with the Older, More Intelligent (Swedish) Sister

To start with I have to eat some words. I said in another review that I wouldn't see this film because I didn't want to tarnish my memory the superlative Swedish original and as a (very) minor protest against the crassness of Hollywood in remaking it, but I did see it after all.

It’s an excellent cast, even if there are only two Scandinavians (the superb Stellan Skarsgard, and Yorick van Wageningen as Bjurman) among the main players. Daniel Craig is, thankfully, not all action, which would have been inappropriate. Christopher Plummer is faultless as Henrik Vanger, and Steven Berkoff delightfully mysterious as his lawyer Frode. Skarsgard’s portrayal of Martin Vanger is also superb, although the character’s more subtle traits have been lost between book and script.

The inevitable question is how does it compare to the original film? The answer, pluses and minuses. Rooney Mara’s performance is excellent, but I found her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander a bit too repressed, almost dispassionate in places, compared to Noomi Rapace’s definitive original, and I was not entirely convinced by Yorick van Wageningen’s take on Bjurman, although it must be an exceedingly difficult role to play. Craig’s Blomkvsit has much to recommend it, but I think he is too dynamic compared to Michael Nykvist’s original. As a whole I think Fincher’s version is a bit too slick, diluting the sense of dogged investigation that serves the source material better.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtrack for Fincher’s last, ‘The Social Network’ is note perfect, here I found it invasive to begin with, and although the musical interludes settle down, the soundtrack is close to dominating in places where the drama should have centre stage.

All in all I am glad I saw it, it’s a great film, but more a remake of Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 screen version than a new adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s book, nonetheless well worth seeing if you can handle some violent scenes – but do wait 2 or 3 months then see the original Swedish films too (if you haven't), they are superb.

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