Phenomenal Casting

This week the movie based on the Stieg Larsson book “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” opened and my friends Courtney and Janine invited me to go with them. We were somewhat surprised that there wasn’t more of a crowd at the theater, but it was a Tuesday night.

Both Janine and I had read all three books, however if you haven’t I would suggest that you do as my friend Courtney did, a little research prior to going so your not confused by the storyline. In the book Larsson takes his time developing the characters, however the movie starts from the point in time when Mikael Blomkvist played by Daniel Craig has lost a libel judgement and decides to take on a special investigative project.

While working on the project Craig decides her needs an experience investigator, enter Lisbeth Salander played by Rooney Mara whose performance drives the movie. Often when you read a book one is disappointed when a character does not look like what you pictured them to be in your mind. This was not the case with Lisbeth as the twenty five year old Rooney cut off a foot of her hair, dyed it black, bleached her eyebrows and got six piercings to play the part perfectly. In my humble opinion she deserves a nomination for an Oscar.

The movie was dark as was the book and the rape scene in the movie was very intense along with the scene where she pays back her perpetrator. Larsson who wrote the book witnessed a gang rape of a girl named Lisbeth when he was fifteen and he did not intervene. This experience haunted him for the rest of his life and in an effort to atone for this all of his books deal with the issue of women being abused by men.

I loved the movie, was entertained by it, would go see it again and would highly recommend it to all. Just as an aside – this was my 200th post on Webnerhouse – hard to believe.

And the Plot Thickens

I just finished Stieg Larsson’s second book of the Millennium trilogy, The Girl who Played with Fire and I found his second book more entertaining than his first. I am not going to offer any hints about the plot in the second book as I have a few friends reading it at this time and I don’t want to ruin it for them (Bob revealed a key detail about the ending to book two in one of his blogs some time back, thanks Bob).

All I will say is the plot in the Larsson’s second book continues to revolve around the two main characters he developed in his first book, Lisbeth Salander and Michael Blomkvist and murder is involved. The thing I like about Larsson’s writing style is the way that he skips around from character to character giving their perspective on the events that are unfolding in the story line. Book two ends with a cliff hanger wanting you to get book three ASAP.

Larsson was not your typical lifetime writer, beginning his fiction writing at age 48 when he was bored while on vacation. He planned on writing ten books in all with proceeds from the book going towards funding his retirement.

He was a workaholic and a non-stop smoker who went to the office one day and found the elevator was out of order so he climbed seven flights of stairs and eventually collapsed in his office after having a heart attack at the age of fifty – damn elevator !

It is only my humble opinion, but Larsson truly had a gift and was a wonderful author and I will be very sad when I finish book three knowing there is nothing left from him to read.

The Girl Who Got To Be Too Unbelievable

I just finished the last volume of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, and I have mixed feelings about them.  I thought the initial book, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was excellent.  I liked the second volume, The Girl Who Played With Fire, although I thought it was not as strong as the first book.  I also thought the last volume — The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — was the weakest of the three.

I liked the first volume because it was deliberate in its pace and different in its approach to storytelling.  It took a while to get into the story, and the author didn’t seem to care that he was taking his time introducing you to characters, major and minor, and giving you their back stories.  The character of Lisbeth Salander was fresh and different, the bit-by-bit relating of the horrible incidents and tragedies in her life was like finding successive clues on a treasure hunt, and the overarching tale of the redemption of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his discovery of the secrets of the Vanger family, with the eventual assistance of Salander, was an interesting plot line.  In the first book, although both Salander and Blomkvist have unique talents — as a computer hacker and reporter, respectively — their characters are believable and their actions and accomplishments are within the range of possibility.  And I liked how the telling of the engrossing story also helped me learn a bit about Sweden and its history and culture.

Unfortunately, as the story progressed through the second and third books it became increasingly unbelievable and, as a result, much less interesting.  Lisbeth Salander somehow acquires the skills of a master spy and action hero who survives being shot in the head and buried alive.  The middle-aged Blomkvist is revealed as a super-sleuth and awesome sexual athlete who apparently is irresistible to every woman he encounters and is able to fight off contract killers.  By the middle of the third book, the story has become a pretty standard trial drama where the outcome is foreordained and the only question is when and how, inevitably, Salander will confront and defeat her equally superhuman but evil half-brother.

I understand the buzz about Larsson’s books, and I applaud any series that has the mistreatment of women as one of its principal story lines.  I do find myself wishing, however, that Larsson had stopped writing after the first book.