I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the theater on Friday night. I was on a date, and slightly distracted (in a good way) at times. So I’m not sure how fair and balanced this review is going to be…

That said, this is my third encounter with the same material. I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (but evidently didn’t write a review) in early 2010. I had read an article about Larsson’s death in Vanity Fair that led me to seek out his work. I liked the book, but only rated it four stars. I think because it dragged a bit in the beginning, maybe. I can’t be certain since I didn’t write a review at the time and am stuck relying on my (faulty) memory.

I loved the 2009 Swedish film when I saw it at a Cinema Sundays showing at The Charles Theater in Baltimore. Again, I don’t think I bothered to write a review, but I definitely remember thinking this was one of the few times the movie might actually be a bit better than the book. The harsh winter setting of fictional Hedestad becomes a character in the film in a coldly beautiful way. The visual use of the family photos on the wall made it easier for to navigate the thorny Vanger family tree. And while some story lines got trimmed from the film, I could live without a few of Mikael Blomkvist’s sexual liaisons. Swedish cinema doesn’t have the high-gloss polish of Hollywood and the visible flaws of the actors served this troubled story well.

I often think American-made remakes rarely improve, and quite often cheapen, their European source material. But when I found out Daniel Craig was attached to the American version, I had high hopes for a blockbuster. I do love me some Daniel Craig. And I wasn’t entirely disappointed. I did very much like the film. It’s possible I’ve over done it and am starting to get a little bored with the material. Or maybe I just need to watch this version again and give it my undivided attention. Who knows? Rooney Mara does a nice job, but Noomi Rapace is Lisbeth to me. This version felt like a knock-off, albeit a very nicely made knock-off.

I liked this version, but I didn’t love it. Much the same way I felt about the original novel.

Bottom line: If you liked the book, you’ll like this film. If you liked this film and haven’t seen the Swedish version, consider renting it. 

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