The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a favorite of mine. Lurid sex, feisty women, grisly violence, bloody crime scenes, rape, perversion, action, murder... as Mary Poppins once said, "these are a few of my favorite (cinematic) things..." Ugly material works in the movies because it elicits a reaction from the audience and is sure to provoke a reaction dramatically.
David Fincher, the director of the American version of the story, is no slouch. His Zodiac is a favorite of mine, and I'm quite partial to Seven also. He's a director who applies his mind to a film's details and clearly has a plan. His films never feel like they're driven by a paycheck or a crass commercial motive -- not that a film shouldn't make a tidy profit (it actually needs to), but we shouldn't smell the urine-scented sweat of the accountants at the ledgers.
Fincher's Dragon Tattoo is not a lot different from the Swedish version. It's not quite as sexual, and it's colors are much more muted than those of the original, but it retains its source's essence of vice and corruption. The Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score is more soundscape than musical accompaniment and is all the better for it. Rooney Mara, who plays the sensuously named Lisbeth Salander, is totally convincing, hot as coals, and compelling in the lead role. Daniel Craig, taking a break from Bond, acquits himself very nicely as the American version of Mikael Blomkvist.
Before coming to this version, I feared that elements of the original would be toned down or changed. Does Salander seduce and fuck Blomkvist in Fincher's take? With gusto? Yes. Does Salander get thoroughly sexually abused in this take? Yes. The abuse is not as explicit, protracted, or depraved as it was in the Swedish adaptation, but we get the point.
Still, for me, the American version is a little too visually calculated and dour. But it was great to see some honest fucking in American movies and take a message home that someone, at least, is comfortable telling us that not all sex without matrimony leads to despair, depression, and disaster (eventually).
Poster for the original: more sexual, more 'European' in a Eurosleaze way