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The Curious Accents of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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I’ve titled this post “The Curious Accents of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“. This title is somewhat misleading. It implies that I might have an explanation for them. I know that they’ve puzzled some of the English speaking viewers, and perhaps you had hoped that a Swede could make sense of it.

But I’m afraid I can’t.

I have no idea why Rooney Mara sounds as if she’s from Russia or Finland. I don’t know why some actors pronounce the Swedish name in perfect Swedish, suddenly, without an explanation breaking off the otherwise English sentence they’ve just uttered. And I don’t know why other actors, such as Daniel Craig, speak perfect English with no accent at all.

I tried to find some kind of pattern. Was Fincher trying to tell us something about the characters? Perhaps he considered Mikael Blomkvist smart and educated, a language craftsman whose personality would be best reflected by a perfect pronunciation? It sounded far-fetched and eventually I decided to shrug it off. I figured it was just a part of giving a bit of local flavor to the movie and they did it pretty carelessly, not going into deep investigations about what a typical Swedish-American accent really sounds like. Perhaps it worked as a Scandinavian enhancer for some people. For me it didn’t. All it did was distracting me.

Title sequence
And while we’re at distractions, let’s talk about the very beginning of the movie, the Bondesque title sequence with the fancy graphics and the mesmerizing soundtrack. It was pretty good  – as long as you regarded it as a stand-alone music video. But as soon as it was over and the film abruptly started with one of the bleak shots from the winterish Swedish reality, it felt just weird and disconnected. That intro clearly belonged to a different movie, as if someone had made a mix-up in the editing room. Considering the director’s reputation for being a perfectionist, this highly unlikely of course. But to me it was a strange choice.

I think you see where I’m getting with this review. Yes, I have mixed feelings towards this movie. Since I’ve started with some grumblings, I think I’ll continue on this track, and then I’ll write a little bit about the good stuff and then I’ll wrap it up at some point. Does that sound like a fair deal? OK.

The panty observation
My next issue to be discussed is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. I know there are quite a few people who prefer her to Noomi Rapace in the Swedish original movie, but I’m not one of those. While I don’t have anything against her acting performance – it’s nothing short of great – I would have preferred to see a slightly older version of Lisbeth, especially in the bed scenes. She’s so young that she’ looks almost as the same age as Blomvist’s daughter. It’s not believable to me that they would end up having sex. The chemistry isn’t really there. She looks far more girlish and less powerful than Rapace did. And why on Earth would she ask Blomkvist for permission to attack someone? I would imagine that Salander could decide that very well for herself. Fiffi, a Swedish blogger colleague, also made an interesting observation about her underwear:

“When Lisbeth gets picked up by a lesbian girl in a bar and gets a hot night and the girls wake up in bed in the morning,  what are they wearing? In reality, I am one hundred percent sure that the answer would be nothing (which I believe is how it played out in the Swedish film), but in this film both of the girls have black cotton hipsters. Likely? Nah, but it’s clear that lesbians have lucid briefs worn in all situations, it is not so? When the late Lisbeth “becomes more hetero” and shows interest in Michael, she suddenly changes to white lace lingerie. Then the nipples will be pushed out by the creamy white lace bra (close up) and the lesbian label disappeared all of a sudden and Salander becomes kind of more girlish, more feminine, a little more okay.”

I hear you Fiffi.

The good stuff

Now over to some good stuff. Because of course there is. For the annoyances there were and for how little I actually care for this franchise (would you believe me that I haven’t even read the books?) I was pretty well entertained as long as the movie lasted and apart from the accent issue it was polished in a way that Swedish movies never are with their vastly smaller budgets.

The attention to details was also amazing. This was a Sweden that I recognized and could connect to, nothing false, nothing too glossy. The view of the north going train reminded me of a song, “Vintersaga”, which in a nutshell captures what it means to live in Scandinavia in wintertime when the darkness falls and the melancholy enters.  In a rough translation:

“The Lappland train is roaring like a savage animal through the night/The farms are turning out their lights […] That’s when the big melancholy is rolling in/and from the sea there’s a chilly grey wind”

… But was it necessary?
Don’t read me wrong. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not a bad movie. After watching Seven a little while ago, I’m a big admirer of David Fincher’s.

But this is also why I’m questioning the very existence of this film. Why, oh, why is he wasting time on remaking something that was made so recently and did fairly well in the first version? It isn’t as if he brings a revolutionary new take on the story, is it?

You don’t need to tell me the answer; I suppose it’s money. We’ve all got to make a living one way or another. And yet I find it a waste. Waste of talent, waste of skills. Life is only so long and he could be doing new movies on par with Seven, movies that are groundbreaking, movies that will be copied. Ultimately I don’t think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is what Fincher will be remembered for.

God forbid that he’ll spend the next few years making follow-ups to this. He’s deserves better. And we do too! The world doesn’t need more Millenium. It’s time to move on. There are so many stories yet untold. And we want to hear them.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher US, 2011) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

January 5, 2012 at 1:20 am