The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the few books I’ve kinda “read” before seeing the movie, lately.  Last year we were making an 1800 mile road trip.  Having heard rave reviews, I purchased the audio book to listen to along the way.  The book is excellent, of course, but I confess we did not finish it before seeing the American version of the film (this weekend on the DVR).  As a result, I had the rare occasion to have a feeling about how the setting and characters should look and feel, but didn’t know how the story ends.  (I did, however, correctly guess who Henrietta’s killer was.)

I have the Swedish version of the film, and its two sequels queued up on Netflix, and am anxious to watch them, if only for comparison purposes.

The story, based on the bestselling novel by Stieg Larsson, is excellent.  There is a real depth of character, and an intriguing mystery which grabs the audience with a perplexing, if otherwise innocuous detail, from the first scene.  Including not changing the setting to one more palatable to an American audience (then shooting in a foreign country for tax reasons), the story is faithfully preserved.  There is a lot of detail about Swedish economic stimulus programs which is more glossed over than in the book, understandably for the sake of a film.

Daniel Craig, most recently known for his portrayals of the “rebooted” James Bond, proves he really can act with the noble, but recently disgraced, Mikael Blomkvist.  I almost expected him to be tougher because of Craig, and was strangely delighted that he wasn’t.  Rooney Mara has the somewhat tougher job playing Lisbeth Salander, a clinical sociopath, to whom the audience is strangely attracted.  Mara expertly does this with a natural believability.

I’ll try not to give too much away for the 6 people out there who haven’t seen this film before me.  There is a lot of tough subject matter in the film.  After all we’re looking for a murderer, who we find out is a serial murderer.  Lisbeth, as a ward of the state, is molested and raped (two separate scenes) by her case worker, on camera.  This is done with a brutality which seems intended to make the audience sympathetic to her own viciousness.  It works.  Though we never want Miss Salander to be investigating, or even have a mild dislike of us, the audience has no issue with her venom loosed on the several villains of the film.

For some reason, several people warned me about the rape scene ahead of time.  Perhaps I have a higher tolerance for the inhuman than the inhumane.  I was far more upset by the dismembered stray cat.