I saw the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie the other weekend. It was phenomenal, much, much better than I had anticipated. (SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie yet but want to, you should probably stop reading here. Ditto if you haven’t read the book, although I think there are enough differences that it won’t matter so much).
Incidentally, I happen to think that this is one of the few (perhaps the only) movies based on a book where you are expected to walk into the theatre with a working knowledge of the characters and the plot. Otherwise, it seems that the viewer would get lost in the tangle of relationships and plotlines. If you saw it and hadn’t read the books first, I’d love to know what you thought.
The book is undoubtedly Mikhail’s, despite the title. It’s his obsession with Wennerström that pulls the story into existence, his research into the disappearance of Harriet Vanger that drives the plot, his decision to go after Martin that produces the climax, and his detective work that finally produces Harriet in the end. Salander is window dressing, a pretty face along for the ride.
Which probably explains most of The Rejectionist’s Eleven Thoughts About Lisbeth Salander. I even agree with a good many of them.
The Lisbeth Salandar in the movie, though, holds her own. She is fierce, rather than beautiful. She doesn’t care what you think about her. She doesn’t care that you want to sleep with her. And yet. Despite the emphasis in the books about how badly she has been broken, in the movie she comes across as whole. Damaged, perhaps, but not irretrievably so. The Lisbeth Salandar in the movie? She’s a real person.
I think, somewhere, we’ve all been Salander. Maybe it’s when we stare, blankly, at the guy trying to hit on us in the coffee shop. Maybe it’s the tattoo we got to commemorate the unthinkable. Maybe it’s the moment we watch the man we love walk out of his apartment with the woman he’ll never leave.
And it’s that ineffability, that ephemera of woman, which Rooney Mara pulls through the film and which men like Steig Larsson will never understand.