My friend A. has been on me for years to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, along with the other two books in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy. But in typical fashion for me, I never got around to them, despite owning the first two books. (This should be a entire blog entry on its own, but I've had trouble reading fiction over the last five years or so. It's a problem I'm working on.)
I've also never watched the Swedish film adaptations of the "Dragon Tattoo" books. Although I'm familiar enough with Noomi Rapace's portrayal of the title character to know why she's suddenly appearing in blockbuster American films. And I recognized the actor who played Mikael Blomkvist, the story's other protagonist, in the new "Mission: Impossible" movie.
At various points throughout this year, I intended to read the books and/or watch the Swedish films before seeing David Fincher's American version. Adaptations are kind of a pet fascination of mine, and I'm very curious how the material is approached differently. But I continued to procrastinate (i.e., goof around online, watch TV and read other — nonfiction — books), leaving myself little time to check out the source material.
All of this is a long way of telling you that I went into this movie fresh, as Frank Costanza would say. I had no idea if Fincher (and screenwriter Steve Zallian) were faithful to the book. I had no opinion on whether or not the Swedish movies were better. I couldn't tell you if Rapace is a better Lisbeth Salander than Rooney Mara. Is the tendency by Daniel Craig's Blomkvist to hang his glasses off his ear and dangle them below his jaw something from the book or a quirk Craig came up with himself? Dunno.
What I do know is that I love Fincher's movies. (Well, not all of them. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a snoozer.) And this is such a great match of filmmaker and material that it's almost like it was meant to happen.