By now, you or someone you know – perhaps everyone you know – has read Stieg Larsson’s thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Hell, even I’ve read it, and it’s not even really my cup of tea (although it might be yours, depending on where you fall on the enjoys-anal-rape-stories spectrum). It’s like a more violent, more naked episode of CSI. Anyway, the book is an international sensation about an ill-matched crimefighting duo: a ladyloving investigative journalist and a pierced, goth hacker chick who suffers no fools and gets in lots of fights.
Of course, Hollywood wants in on this international sensation action; David Fincher is set to direct the movie version. What’s that, you say? There’s already a movie version? Done by Scandinavians? Why are they remaking it then? Let’s take a look at some possible motives.
1. The Scandinavian film is terrible – Let’s check the rottentomatoes: 88% fresh. Well, maybe it’s only a handful of reviews. Nope, 192 reviews. Well, maybe that’s just the garbage critics, what do the top critics think? 89% fresh. Critics are stupid, though – is the movie good? Yeah, I just watched it: perfectly cast, well-paced (the book is like 850 pages long), loyal to the source material without sacrificing cinematic form – it’s really good. But maybe Hollywood deserves some kudos for seeking out that other 12% freshness that the first film could not earn.
2. The lead actors are not marquee names – This is definitely true, the titular heroine is portrayed by Noomi Rapace, who was a relative unknown in Sweden when cast as Lisbeth Salander (goth hacker fighter). (I’m not going to focus on the male lead; Michael Nyqvist is phenomenal as Mikael Blomkvist but there are some boldfaced names I can see doing good work in the role. Somebody like Viggo Mortensen or maybe even Daniel Craig – not Brad Pitt. Bad skin is a must, though.) Given the substantial evidence against it, I cannot fathom how Hollywood continues to try to shoehorn well-established “movie stars” into iconic roles that beg to have “nobodies” step in and embody the character (think Christopher Reeve as Superman).
Let’s have a look at Larsson’s initial physical description of the character:
“[Lisbeth] was a pale, anorexic young woman who had hair as short as a fuse, and a pierced nose and eyebrows…she had simply been born thin, with slender bones that made her look girlish and fine-limbed with small hands, narrow wrists, and childlike breasts.”
Now, given that, take a look at Hollywood’s most frequently-mentioned choice to fill the role:
Plus, there is mondo nudity in this film – I cannot imagine Scarlet or Kristen Stewart or Natalie Portman are gonna want to run around butt naked for twenty minutes of screen time. I actually don’t hate Scarlet as an actress (I saw Ghost World in the theater, so I have some credibility here); she could pull off Lisbeth’s emotionally unavailable routine since that’s how she always comes across anyway. But please, casting people, either convince Noomi to do it one more time (she’s said previously the role was too taxing/draining to consider resuming the role in the remake) or find some unknown punk chick brawling at a hipster bar in BFE.
3. The remake will take place in Los Angeles, or somewhere more palatable to ‘Mericans – Nope, Fincher says the remake is going to be set in Sweden, too. It makes sense to cast American actors, then, so that we can all be enchanted by their attempts at Swedish accents. That’s just smart filmmaking.
4. Americans are too stupid to read subtitles – This is probably correct, although I personally love subtitles since my hearing sucks so bad. We have to turn on the closed captions often anyway – like on Breaking Bad where they whisper or mumble too much or The Wire where you can’t understand half the lingo the first time through.
5. The current version is too arty (ie won’t make the moniez) – There’s tons of murdering, raping and nudity, but somehow the European setting and tasteful cinematography give this flick an indie or (even worse) arty vibe. (Luckily, EuroTrip managed to avoid that label.) Any remake set in Sweden is going to have the same “issues” – but who gives a sh-t? Pretty much everyone will have read the damn book anyway, the “artiness” is part of the book’s appeal: you don’t feel so dirty reading an R-rated CSI on Red Bull, since it’s literature.
Personally, I think they should just re-release the European version and save everyone all the hassle. Give it a big release, you’ll have girls going dressed up as Lisbeth and everything. Then Noomi Rapace can become a big star here in the US and land the role of Wonder Woman or something.