“Dragon Tattoo”: What I Thought

The lines were long for the screenings last night of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” at the Upper West Side cinema where I saw David Fincher‘s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s ridiculously popular novel. And why not? What better way to finish off a day of Christmas shopping and peppermint sticks and mistletoe than with a bleak Swedish tale about pierced-nipple girl hackers and women with their heads cut off and twenty-below weather? Sounds so sweet, right? Before you run screaming back to your Christmas stocking, please know that that Hollywood’s honchos made sure that the movie begins and ends, more or less, during the holiday season. And, as one who has been in Stockholm in December, I can tell you that it’s not nearly as bleak as it sounds. Larsson’s vision is not cozy — and Fincher’s adaptation certainly isn’t. On one level, it’s the meanest holiday movie since the Grinch. And the ending, in which the title character, Lisbeth Salander, has her heart handed to her on a butcher’s platter, isn’t exactly a page out of Valentine’s Day. Of course, if you go to the movie on a date — and who wouldn’t want to witness brutal rape and incest as part of a romantic evening? — it may have you clinging to your beloved even more tightly. (Dear B., hope I didn’t squeeze too hard.) As for the movie adaption in general, it was done with Fincher’s consummate touch. My main complaint is that there is so much story to get through — it feels as if most of the movie is exposition — that you can never quite relax into a scene without feeling that if you slacken you won’t keep up with the plot. But bottom line: well worth seeing.

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