Tag Archives: Christopher Plummer

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, take two

It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was pretty good. The American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was as enjoyable as the Swedish original, despite what I said about it earlier. I still don’t hold with the need to make a ‘proper’ American film of every foreign success, but that doesn’t mean they are poor copies.

As Mrs Pendolino said, the film was faithful to the book. Although how she knows this is a mystery. It was as faithful as the first film, which means most of it but not all. You can’t use the excuse that a long book needs to be cut in order to fit into a normal length film. Because if you did, you couldn’t explain away the extra bits that were never in the book.

We were fascinated by the accents. Here they go and make a proper US film and they have the actors speak as though they were a little bit Swedish. That’s everyone but Stellan Skarsgård, who as a true Swede spoke Americanised English the way he always does. (OK, there were a few real Swedes of lesser Hollywood standing who also sounded Swedish.)

The landscape was a wee bit bleak at times. A true Nordic film maker would know that you can be bleak in mind and in meaning, while still providing beautiful sunny landscapes for the eye. The cottage was rather dreamy, but maybe Hollywood believes in large and elegant cottages.

And the seasons! They were strange seasons. All right with some autumn to begin with. Then Christmas. Also fine. Followed later by autumn leaves on the trees, when it ought to have been spring. No summer to speak of, so I’m guessing they didn’t film over a whole year.

Rooney Mara was a great Lisbeth Salander. I didn’t think it would be possible for her to match Noomi Rapace, but she did. Even James Bond as Mikael Blomkvist was all right. Most people were OK in their roles, but seasonal disorder notwithstanding, it’s the landscape that wins. And you don’t get that in California.

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

What happened to Mikael’s stint in jail? Cleaned up? At least they ended the film the same as the book! None of this being careful with Lisbeth’s feelings.

A surfeit of diarists

Leo Tolstoy seems to have been surrounded by mad diarists. Almost all those around him towards the end of his life were scribbling away furiously at all times, wanting to note who said what and why and when. The 1910 solution to the lack of Twitter one imagines.

The Last Station provides a useful insight to the last months of the life of Tolstoy for someone like me who has to admit to knowing next to nothing. However, my companion pointed out that they made a few things up. Sofya Tolstoy offered to throw herself under a train like Anna Karenina, and was generally fairly neurotic, but who wouldn’t be when surrounded by Rasputin types? Especially when some of them were your own children.

Helen Mirren, Anne-Marie Duff and Paul Giamatti

Tolstoy was clearly a superstar in his day, and had his crazy followers like Chertkov, as well as his lovingly devoted fans, like Bulgakov, the celibate vegetarian who sneezes when nervous. Achoo. Tolstoy’s ideas may have been both interesting and revolutionary, but his little clan looked mostly like premature American hippies.

James McAvoy and Christopher Plummer

Very nicely filmed, in Russia and in Germany, The Last Station had more birch trees than you could shake a stick at. Some good train sets too, but I fail to see why Tolstoy had to rattle off in what looked like third class, when the Countess had her own ‘royal’ train to follow him in.

Good story if you want to know a little about Tolstoy, but perhaps not the most riveting film this year. Star studded cast, and perfect for fans of James McAvoy, what with him being in almost every scene. Christopher Plummer has aged well and Paul Giamatti did benign evil perfectly. And Helen Mirren is Helen Mirren.

At Cornerhouse from this weekend.