I think I’ve got it now. There is nothing like watching a film again. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which has just arrived in Britain, and at Cornerhouse, was pretty much the same this time round. But I think I worked out why it’s not doing well with the (male) reviewers that I’ve read.
This is very much Men Who Hate Men Who Hate Women, if you’re with me? The film of Stieg Larsson’s novel is the opposite way round to the traditional crime/thriller/adventure story. I think that may be why I like it, and that may also be why men like it less, even though they could be unaware of the reason.
Mikael Blomkvist might be a hero and he’s fairly intelligent. But it’s Lisbeth Salander who does all the cool stuff. She’s the really intelligent one, she’s the one who is violent, she’s the one who calls the shots on relationship issues. Lisbeth rescues Mikael (sorry about the spoiler, but you should know this by now), and Lisbeth decides if she wants to sleep with him. She runs after the murderer. She rigs up the security in the cottage. Lisbeth gets to ride the motorbike. She sleeps with women. And she has the cool tattoo, whatever your opinion about tattoos may be.
What is there for men to feel comfortable about?
Now that I’ve got all that feminist reasoning out of the way, what remains to be said is that this really is a great film. The book has been criticised for it’s poor language, but that’s less obvious in a film. Swedes are silent, so there is less to say, and less to translate. The subtitling was fine for the most part. Slight difference between murdering and killing, I think, but never mind.
Nice scenery of woods and lakes and empty roads and dramatic bridges. Lots of suddenly very old Swedish actors, and most of those who are famous seem to be in the film. I think there will be less call for a Hollywood version than seemed likely last year. The Swedish version is as it should be, and there is no need for either Branagh or Costner to get involved. Swedes do it better.
Doing it the Swedish way has caused one slight problem, however. It’s an 18. I didn’t see that coming, but I suppose there is just too much nasty sex and violence for 17-year-olds. The rape scene is unpleasant. The worrying thing is that you get used to it. But you have to have it, since the whole trilogy hinges around what happens early on in the first part.