Not long ago I watched all three of the Stieg Larsson movies, the trilogy which begins with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I saw them in the subtitled original. Besides the powerful tale that is told, I was completely blown away by Noomi Rapace‘s performance as Lisbeth Salander. Because of this, I have no interest in watching the English-language remake of this movie or the related stories. Once you have a stellar performance engraved on your mind, others can seem only shallow imitations. I also don’t trust American cinema to stay true to the original stories (and books) as the Swedish version did; it seems part of Hollywood’s DNA to do writing-by-committee, to toss producers’ opinions into the mix, or otherwise to allow various factors to dilute pure and powerful storytelling. Only adamant artists with creative control, like Spike Lee, or producer/directors who are completely invested in the scripting process, like James Cameron or Ridley Scott, are people I would trust with an adaptation of a foreign work in that manner. The new version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo does not seem to be of that genesis, so I’ll take a pass.
The original, though, is another story entirely. The story is quirky and unexpected, the twists unforeseen, the whole is unpredictable, like one is exploring new territory as every plot development unfolds. And Noomi Rapace! What a discovery! Her Lisbeth is street-tough but vulnerable, a near-broken child grown into a wary woman with an edge of wired-tight intensity. Her defenses are obvious; her genius as well, if she allows one to glimpse it. She is complex, prickly, and mesmerizing. She is like those women you meet sometime who are mysteries you want to solve, but who may not stand still long enough – or let you close enough – to do so.
All of this brings me around to my science fiction novel Mainline. Mainline’s protagonist is Reva, a wary, streetwise woman who works as an assassin because of her rare ability to move between variant moments of Now. She is flashy when she wants to be or can blend into the background; she is by turns abrasive or subtle, whatever she needs to do to achieve her ends. She, too, is intense, complex, prickly, and mesmerizing. When I saw Rapace’s performance in Dragon Tattoo, I knew I had found my Reva. Forget the vague cover art on that novel, an artist’s random concept based on a few book notes. Except for a difference in height (Reva is 5’8; Noomi is petite in comparison), the attitude, body language and look is virtually identical to what I have long seen as Reva. Reva is a tad less punk, more chic, but the basic vibe is the same.
Some quotes from Rapace that caught my eye:
I’m interested in people’s darker side, the ones that aren’t easy and well balanced. The cracks.
We need more extreme movies in Sweden, personal projects that aren’t necessarily made for a bigger audience. I think it creates a creative block to always have the audience as a goal.
When Mainline is made into a movie, Noomi Rapace gets my vote for playing the lead. Until that happy day, you can get a hint of Reva by checking out the remarkable Dragon Tattoo movie in the original subtitled version. Rapace’s performance alone will make it worth your while, and if you like this kind of suspense/thriller tale, you’ll enjoy the ride overall. If you miss that, you might want to catch Prometheus, coming out in 2012, a dose of high-octane science fiction by Ridley Scott, who cast Rapace as lead character Elizabeth Shaw. She is also presently appearing in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
This is not a formal movie review for the original movie, but since I do go on a bit about aspects of the film and cast, I’ll give it a rating as well.