This is something of a follow-up to my post from a few months ago, in which I criticised the way the American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was being marketed. Having now seen the film itself, I can say that it's just as excellent as all the reviews say, although I still prefer the original Swedish version. Rooney Mara's performence was brilliant (and often surprisingly funny -- she's a master of the deadpan "fuck you" one-liner), and different enough from Noomi Rapace's that it didn't seem like a retread. Daniel Craig's was a little trickier. He was a lot more likeable than Michael Nyqvist, the actor who played Blomkvist in the Swedish film, and I think the story benefits from Blomkvist being an appealing character since Salander is so intent on being unappealing. But Craig almost seemed too polished and charming, whereas Nyqvist was more believable as a middle-aged journalist. It feels cheap to namecheck James Bond, but Craig came across as a little too charming and heroic for my tastes, for all that Salander still bore the brunt of the violence in the film.
Craig was far more dapper than I expected for the character of Blomkvist, which made it more difficult for me to separate Daniel Craig from Michael Blomkvist in my mind, particularly since he's otherwise famous for another very well-dressed character. This new, stylish Blomkvist wore tailored trousers and was rarely seen without a fitted waistcoat -- in other words, he was often almost indistinguishable in appearance from Daniel Craig in red-carpet mode.
One problem I had was with the Swedish accents. Someone told me that Fincher had everyone speak like that in order to highlight the "alien setting" to English-speaking viewers, but all it did was remind me of a scene from Slings & Arrows, in which a Hollywood heart-throb is about to begin rehearsals for Hamlet and asks a co-star if he should start learning a British accent for the role. She replies that Hamlet is from Denmark, so maybe he should start looking up Danish accent tapes instead. But when was the last time you heard a Danish Hamlet? The fact that I knew the Swedish accents in GWTDT were fake was offputting, especially since Stellan Skarsgård, the only Swedish actor in the main cast, sounded more Irish than Rooney Mara's convincing Swedish, and Daniel Craig basically retained his own accent throughout. What happened when Blomkvist went to London to visit Anita Vanger? Were they speaking English, or Swedish? Anita's accent was English with a very believable posh London tinge, so I'd say English. But by that logic... what language had Blomkvist been speaking throughout the rest of the film?
The time has come to stop using non-English accents to represent non-English languages. It's too reminiscent of the countless movies in which Nazi villains speak in well-enunciated German accents by way of Oxford. X-Men: First Class and Inglourious Basterds both included scenes in which characters spoke in non-English languages with subtitles, and they certainly didn't suffer in the box-office. By comparison, the recent Captain America film -- aimed at pretty much the same audience as X-Men -- had the Nazi villains speaking English with German accents and came across as faintly ridiculous.
|Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish GWTDT.|
|Lena Endre and Michael Nyqvist as Erika Berger and Michael Blomkvist, in the Swedish GWTDT.|
Link: video interview with Trish Summerville, costume designer of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.