The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It’s interesting how society’s perception of tattoos has evolved. It used to be that only sailors and bikers were inked; now they take away your hipster card if you don’t have at least one ironic mark on your body. Choosing the right tattoo is critical, for it’s like a little peek into your psyche. If you choose to have Tweety Bird forever stained upon your hip, don’t be surprised if people treat you like the birdbrain you are. Cryptic Chinese words that you think mean Peace but really mean Kung Pao Chicken are problematic, and any kind of tramp stamp is going to be mortifying when you’re having a Pap smear at age forty-two.

Still, a good tattoo can go a long way towards identifying you as a badass. Lisbeth Salander, the fierce, damaged title character from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has enough ink and piercings to hint that she is a force to be reckoned with. It must be hell for her to get through airport scanners. As a ward of the state who has been abused and demoralized by those entrusted to take care of her, Rooney Mara disappears into this role with a ferocity that must have made time on the set between takes interesting. Daniel Craig is appropriately craggy as Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist who hires her and then befriends her as they try to solve a murder. I was pleased to see that Daniel’s paralyzed face muscles have relaxed, because he was so stone-faced in Cowboys & Aliens that I was afraid he had had a stroke.

When a best-selling book is made into a movie, there are the inevitable comparisons between the two. The Lisbeth on the screen was not quite what I had envisioned when I read the book, and arguments have raged about whether or not director David Fincher made her more of a victim than she was originally written. I didn’t interpret the character that way, but I was glad that I had read all three novels to provide the subtext that was impossible to pick up from the film. I was also happy that I knew what the plot was, because this was the most confusing movie that I have ever seen. I can’t imagine how people who hadn’t read the book could have possibly figured out what was going on. Fortunately the screenplay ditched the hundreds of pages explaining the Swedish banking system, but it was still very difficult to follow the parallel stories of Lisbeth and Mikael until they merged.

The book also professed to be appalled by violence against women and then proceeded to demonstrate that by having its title character repeatedly raped and beaten up, a technique that made me uncomfortable when I read it and even more uncomfortable when I saw it on-screen. The success of the books made me wonder if people were getting off on the glorified violence instead of seeing it as a precautionary tale, and the film made me feel the same way. I wouldn’t recommend this as a date movie.

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS It won’t make you physically sick, but the rape scene is pretty disturbing.

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