David Fincher: Lisbeth Salander is 'refuse'

Posted by · 1:27 pm · September 30th, 2011

I’m still not exactly sure how much I should be looking forward to David Fincher’s remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Having effortfully avoided all trailers so far, I have only the on-paper facts to go on — and as much as the names involved push the film comfortably into must-see-and-soon status, I still wonder whether a truly great film can be made from a novel as limited in scope and bitter in aftertaste as Stieg Larsson’s admittedly propulsive bestseller.

The lumbering Swedish original certainly didn’t come close for me, and I at least feel secure in expecting a more cinematically stimulating interpretation of the material from Fincher. What I’m really hoping for, however, is a performance from the hitherto promising Rooney Mara that makes good on the reams of rhetoric we’ve been fed since the book’s publication about Lisbeth Salander being a definitively conflicted 21st-century heroine. Noomi Rapace’s widely praised performance in the Swedish films sold me on Salander’s athleticism and severity, but for me, overegged the character’s self-repression to the point of mere posing.

However, in an interview with Empire magazine, Fincher drops some intriguing hints about his vision for the character that suggests Salander’s inner life has been amply thought through in the new film. Click through to read what he has to say.

From a longer Fincher interview in a forthcoming issue of Empire:

“There were discussions early on where people were like, ‘She’s a superhero!’ And you go, ‘No, she’s not. Superheroes live in a world of good and evil, and she’s far more complex than a superhero. She’s been compromised. She’s been subjugated. She’s been marginalised. She’s been swept into the gutter and she’s had a part in it. She dresses like trash because she’s someone who has been betrayed and hurt so badly, by forces beyond her control, that she’s just decided to be refuse. She can sit anywhere she wants on the bus, because nobody wants to deal with her.”

I’ve read Salander described as an era-defining character to some extent, not merely for her contemporary external affectations, but for her Generation Y independence and avoidance of conventional social interaction. As the hype machine builds, I’m beginning to wonder how many critics and cultural commentators will draw or force a parallel between Salander and Mark Zuckerberg, the anti-hero of Fincher’s last film: both are gifted, introverted social outcasts more conversant with technology than society.

Many critics overstated the symbolic value of Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” crediting him and the film with encapsulating an entire generation, rather than successfully delineating one of said generation’s most successful misfits.

It was such talk, however, that drove the film far into the awards season; “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” may be a far less weighty prospect, but if Mara’s Salander gets similarly elevated to symbolic status by the media, the actress could feasibly overcome the awards-season obstacle of her vehicle’s grim genre trappings.  


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