Niels Arden Oplev's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," based on Stieg Larsson's book, blended a nail-biting mystery with brutal sexuality and unforgettable characters to make the Swedish film one of the best releases of 2009.
So why was it necessary to make a new version?
That's a complicated question having to do with subtitles, money and the eagerness to Americanize any foreign film that shows even a glimmer of cinematic strength. A better question is: Can an American version of the film be as powerful?
Director David Fincher answers with a resounding "yes" as his film starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara is equally as compelling, uncomfortable, powerful and beautifully portrayed as the original. From the erotic opening credits to the superfluous final act, Fincher has made a version equally as good.
The main reason Fincher's film works is Mara, who brings the same fire, insanity and emotional combustibility to the role as when Noomi Rapace originally played Lisbeth Salander on screen. The complexities of this character -- an emotionally battered ward of the state who is a computer whiz -- isn't for the faint of acting heart. It requires a complete transformation into a character dark enough to torture her rapist but vulnerable enough to justify her actions. Maybe Mara will be able to do what Rapace didn't -- earn a much-deserved Oscar nomination.