It’s official. The role of Lisbeth Salander in the thoroughly unnecessary and borderline insulting American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will be played by Rooney Mara.
It’s hard for me to say how I feel about this casting. When I first heard about it, my initial thought was, “Who’s that and how could she be better suited for the role than Jena Malone?” However, after talking to Arleigh, I realized that I actually do know Rooney Mara. She was the lead in another remake, this year’s Nightmare on Elm Street. In that movie, Mara was a likable presence but she was no Lisbeth. Then again, woman like Lisbeth Salander — independent women who refuse to be solely defined as either a good virgin or a bad whore — don’t appear in slasher films. What is important is that Mara has proven she can carry a film. She hasn’t proven that she can carry The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Then again, considering just how iconic a figure as Lisbeth has become (both in the original novel and in the original film) it’s probably for the best that director David Fincher went with an unknown. Rooney appears to be a talented young actress but she’s got a very difficult job ahead of her.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Rooney also has a small role in Fincher’s upcoming film, The Social Network (which is going to suck, by the way). It’s possible that Fincher saw something in Rooney that she hasn’t been allowed to show the rest of the world. Me, I’m just happy that if there is going to be an American version of Lisbeth Salander, at least she’s going to be played by an Irish-American. At heart, Lisbeth is as Irish as a Swede can get.
(Though again, the ideal Irish-American to play Lisbeth would have been and still is Jena Malone.)
As I’ve stated before, I have mixed feelings about the remake of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. (And yes, it is a remake regardless of what they’re saying over at Awardsdaily.com.) On the one hand, the entire literary Millenium Trilogy (of which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the 1st part) is one of the best recent works of pop cultural fiction. Lisbeth Salander is destined to be an iconic noir figure. On a personal note, even though she’s ultimately just a fictional character, she is a fictional character who has provided a great deal of strength and hope to abuse survivors (such as myself). When we read about her and her refusal to allow herself to be victimized or to be dependent on even as well-meaning a man as Mikael Blomkvist, the book’s nominal hero, Lisbeth Salander becomes the vehicle for our own wish-fulfillment fantasies. She is a character who transcends the page to become a role model in real life as well. In many ways, she is the 21st century version of Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett gave hope to aging Southern belles. Lisbeth gives hope to bipolar neurotics like me. And much as everyone couldn’t wait to see Scarlett on-screen, a lot of us couldn’t wait to see Lisbeth on-screen.
And that is the biggest hurdle that director David Fincher and Rooney Mara are going to face with this much-hyped remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. We’ve already seen Libseth onscreen and, in our mind’s eye, she’s not Rooney Mara. Instead, she’s Noomi Rapace. Both Fincher and Mara have a difficult task ahead of them. Not only do they have to meet the expectations of the people who have read the original novel, they have to exceed the expectations of the people who have seen the original Swedish film.
And that, to me, is the issue that is being avoided, the proverbial Elephant in the room. For all the wannabe, internet-based film critics who are currently gleefully devouring any crumbs of information concerning Fincher’s production, nobody has yet to answer the question as to why this film needs to be made at all? (Beyond the obvious fact that there’s money to be made…)
I found it interesting that, at the end of the EW article concerning Mara’s casting, it is mentioned that the film is set to begin filming in Sweden. Why exactly? Hasn’t a film about a girl with a dragon tattoo who helps a smug journalist investigate a disappearance in Sweden already been made? It would seem that the “American version” has little to offer beyond offering up a fantasy Sweden where everyone speaks English and those viewing the film are freed from having to try to read subtitles and rattle their jumbo tubs of popcorn at the same time. Or are we just sending David Fincher over to Sweden because we think we’ve got a thing or two to teach the nation that gave us Ingmar Bergman?
It’s easy to find a lot of people trying to convince themselves that this film is a guaranteed classic. (“I’m so happy they cast Robin Wright!” they exclaim. “I usually hate remakes but with David Fincher aboard, I’m looking forward to this,” another one will say. And, of course, my favorite: “This movie is not a remake!”) But nobody seems to be willing to address just why exactly we would need a new Lisbeth Salander when she’s already been created to perfection by Noomi Rapace.
Seriously, both Rapace and Lisbeth deserves better.
For that matter, so does Rooney Mara.