If you’ve read the best-selling Stieg Larsson trilogy, the main reason to go see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander. From the minute Mara appears on screen she embodies the character of the misfit computer hacker with a photographic memory that millions of people, including myself, have envisioned while reading the books.

In a role that requires little dialogue, Mara is riveting in her intensity and manages to convey with her body language and facial expressions Lisbeth’s genius, rage, and hidden vulnerability simmering under the surface. She nails this character so completely that with the arch of an eyebrow, you know exactly what she’s thinking. The costume design and makeup, a crucial element of Lisbeth’s character are outstanding and complete the transformation of Mara into this indelible figure.

The movie itself is good and a fairly strong adaptation of the 480-page book, which revolves around the renewed investigation into the disappearance 40 years before of 16-year old Harriet Vanger, a member of a wealthy Swedish family. The girl’s elderly uncle, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) determined to know what became of Harriet before he dies, hires Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a journalist convicted of libel, to look into the unsolved case. Mikael, realizes he needs help and hires the researcher who performed the extremely detailed background check on him, Lisbeth Salander. Soon, the two find themselves enmeshed in an ever-widening murder mystery with the dysfunctional Vanger family at the center of it all.

When you know who did it in a whodunit, that knowledge takes away most, if not all, the suspense of the story.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is no different. There are also certain necessary changes in the film adaptation that take away from the intricacy of the story that make the book a richer, deeper and more enjoyable experience. Nevertheless, those that want to see a living, breathing representation of the Lisbeth Salander that lives in the pages of the trilogy and in the imagination of readers, should go see the film.

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