I and the other six or seven people who haven’t yet read Stieg Larsson’s trilogy of books about Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the you-know-what, will now have to find and read them. It seems that most of us men-who-don’t-hate women who have just seen the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have fallen in love with this truly strange Swedish girl. Or is it that we’re in love with Rooney Mara, who plays the girl in David Fincher’s version of the story? I don’t know. But I certainly agree with what one reviewer had to say about her: “When it comes down to it, this is Rooney Mara's movie, and I don't care if the second and third stories are any good as long as they are full of Lisbeth Salander.”
The movie was long (2 hours, 38 minutes) but so intense that no one in the audience was about to fall asleep or complain. And I don’t think I’ve ever experienced cold in a film quite like the cold of the opening ten minutes, when we and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) are first introduced to the island in northern Sweden where he is to begin an investigation into the 40-year-old murder of Harriet Vanger, the young grandniece of the island’s owner, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). The cinematographic white on white of snow and fog of the opening made me shiver from the cold as well as in anticipation of what was to come. And I wasn’t disappointed. The story is shaped like a two-pronged pitchfork that midway comes together at the shaft, one prong about Mikael’s losing a libel suit against a wealthy industrialist and his taking an investigative assignment to find Harriet’s killer from among the odd assortment of relatives of Henrik Vanger who live with him on his island, the other prong about Lisbeth Salander, the young computer hacker who did the investigation for Henrik Vanger into Mikael’s background. There are details about her background that I didn’t understand, either because I hadn’t read Larsson’s trilogy or because I couldn’t follow the dialogue. She tried to kill her father when she was twelve but I don’t know why. Was she abused by him? Okay. But who was the stroke victim she found in his apartment? Her father? And if so, why was she still loyal to him? And her financial allowance was dependent on the mental reports made by her counselor, the sleaze ball who required a sexual favor or two for that allowance. But back to the pitchfork. The two story lines go back and forth until they come together when Lisbeth is hired as Mikael’s assistant in his investigation. Together, they look into the story through computer searches of the details of that day when Harriet disappeared and the many photos they find. There is, of course, a romantic involvement between the two of them, despite their age difference. And the end of the movie leaves us with the feeling that although they aren’t together, they will be in the next installment or two. I guess I may have to see the movie again to find the details I missed the first time. Or read the books. Or see the movie again just to watch Rooney Mara do her tattooed-girl thing. Or do both.