I admit I am conflicted about the American remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” My conflict comes from one question: can (and should) remakes add material to “improve” on the original?
After watching the official trailer released by Sony, I can’t help wondering what’s to become of this new version. American remakes of foreign (especially Scandinavian) films tend to be all style and no substance. After watching “Let Me In,” the 2010 remake of the brilliant Norwegian vampire film “Let the Right One In,” I left the theater wondering why they bothered, other than to add a little extra unnecessary gore.
But back to this particular remake. I saw the original film last year, admittedly late in its popularity. While watching the film, I was overwhelmed by the characters, due in no small part to Noomi Rapace’s amazing performance as the titular heroine. However, by the climax of the film, I had realized that under the surface of this violent character study lay a dull Agatha Christie knock off of a plot. And that disappointed me. The other two films more or less followed suit: while I was consistently blown away by Noomi Rapace’s performance and the complexity of her character, I was otherwise underwhelmed by the plodding plots.
Now it was announced that screenwriter Steven Zaillian (who wins this week’s award for my favorite last name) wrote a new ending for the American remake. True fans of Stieg Larsson are in an obvious uproar, but I can’t help thinking maybe this isn’t a bad thing.
One thing I hope they don’t lose, however (which I know people will disagree with me about) is the starkness of the original films. David Fincher is a wonderfully stylistic director, but I worry that making these films too highly stylized might cut the last threads of realism from the plot and characters and make the story so wildly bizarre that the emotional pain at the center of it is lost.
No matter what the outcome, this is a film to look for.