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David Fincher: Scarlett’s too sexy for Lisbeth. You say that like it’s a BAD thing…

October 18, 2011

Rooney Mara's Halloween outfit.

Okay, the second trailer for The Girl with the Dragaon Tattoo is out, and I’ve got good news and bad news. Good: No need to wait for December, this three-minute movie tells virtually the whole story. Bad: It shows how good the original Swedish film was.

Early on I saw no need for an American version of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling trilogy of crime novels. After all, the Swedes had already produced an excellent adaptation, with an actual Swedish actress, Noomi Rapace, perfect as Lisbeth Salander.

I have to admit my pulse quickened when I saw the first trailer for David Fincher’s Hollywood adaptation: Two minutes of rapid-fire editing propelled by an electrifying new version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, arranged by Trent Reznor and sung by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O.

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Those hopes are dashed by the new preview. Longer than the first by more than a minute, it makes the mistake of slowing the editing and letting people talk. I kept thinking, “Damn, I’ve seen this scene before.” Of course I had — in the Swedish version. At least the faces are prettier.

The new trailer also provides our first really good look — and maybe more important, listen — at Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, and what can I do but sigh? While the young American actress is working her heart out, she has nothing of the feral quality Noomi Rapace brought to the role.

Instead, Mara looks, moves, and sounds like a healthy, well-fed child of privilege playing goth dress-up while she goes through her lesbian phase. Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth looked, moved, and sounded like she’d utterly rejected society after growing up behind a trash can.

Mara’s Salander looks capable of pouting. Rapace’s looked like she would as soon cut your throat as say, “Ursäkta mig.”

If Fincher wanted to Hollywoodize the proceedings, then I say he should have gone whole hog and hired Scarlett Johansson for the role. His decision to pass on her — despite her evident skill and preparation — is revealed in today’s Hollywood Reporter.

“Scarlett Johansson was great,” Fincher says. “It was a great audition, I’m telling you. But the thing with Scarlett is, you can’t wait for her to take her clothes off.”

Gee, David, you say that like it’s a bad thing. Actually, if this filmmaking thing doesn’t work out, you should consider a switch to politics. That amazing statement manages to be sexist and politically correct at the same time .

And let me say for the record: I’ve seen many movies in which Scarlett Johansson managed to keep her clothes on. In fact, all of them. To my knowledge, she has yet to do a nude scene.

I mean, come one, if you’re going to make a Hollywood version, then make a Hollywood version. Johansson would have been perfect. A glammed-up Lisbeth would at least have been intersting.

And if you’re not going to make a Hollywood version, then what’s the point? A perfectly excellent Swedish version already exists.

It may be that come December the actual movie will be better than this dispiriting trailer suggests. Fincher has some impressive successes, from Fight Club to Seven to The Social Network, so you never know. Allow me to note: He’s also made some duds: Alien 3, The Game, Panic Room, so — you never know.

Whatever. My enthusiasm for Fincher’s version — a fragile thing to be sure — has vanished like a plate of pepper kakar at a Christmas party.


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