Today I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace.
I'm always hesitant to see a film created from a book I enjoyed, but in this case it worked out for the best. The parts of the book I found cumbersome and verbose are eliminated, yet the story is undoubtedly fulfilled.
Mikael (Nyqvist) is a journalist who has just been convicted for committing libel against a powerful, wealthy man. Never mind that he was probably framed; he agrees to go quietly into prison once his sentence commences in six months.
Before he can begin serving that sentence, he is contacted by the people of billionaire Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) to research the cold case murder of his niece Harriet who went missing 40 years ago. He is reluctant to take the offer, but the money is good, and coincidentally the missing woman babysat him in youth, so perhaps he feels remotely obligated.
Mikael doesn't get too far solving the mystery until he begins working alongside Lisbeth (Rapace), a twentysomething woman he caught hacking into his computer who has major social issues (and a menacing dragon tattoo).
Together they find the pieces of the never-forgotten puzzle and get close to one another as they discover them. On the side, Liseth overcomes some horrific personal violence (and no, if you can't handle brutal rape scenes, you shouldn't see this film) and fights demons from her own past.
The film succeeds in playing this all out in a realistic way. Nothing is over-stylized and the dialog is completely believable. We care about the characters enough to want to save them and root for any connections they can build with each other. That is both a testament to the strong adapted screenplay and the perfect casting of the two main leads. Really, how will any Americans measure up to them in a remake?
This was a very satisfying screen version of a book that could have been shorter. However, if you're going to devour both the film and the book, be sure to read the book first or you may not make it to the end.