noomi_rapace

Another international phenomenon is about to get a US remake, probably before you’ve even had a chance to catch the original. Doesn’t mean the Stateside do-over isn’t sounding tasty, though…

The biggest crowd pleaser at this year’s Frightfest was the English speaking world’s premiere of a smart, pointed thriller in the Silence of the Lambs vein, though with added politics. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is an adaptation of the first book in Stieg Larsson‘s worldwide smash novel trilogy Millennium, known as Män som hatar kvinnor in its native Sweden – a title that would translate literally as Men Who Hate Women. It’s a rather apt title.

The deal for US adaptations of the book series is closing now, with Sony reported to be tying up the last loose ends of some rather complex negotiations. Things have apparently been slower than with normal rights negotiations, largely due to the sudden death of Larsson shortly before the publication of the first novel, and the ensuing entanglements when it became clear that he had neither married his common law wife or left a will; and partly due to the existence of the Swedish film versions.

Linked to the project are screenwriter Steve Zaillian and producer Scott Rudin. That’s a real power player duo and they give the project a genuine whiff of Oscar even before a single word has been scripted.

Back when we first commented on a possible US remake, Russ passed on news that Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino were supposedly interested in snapping up the rights. Anne Thompson now tells us that Tarantino’s agent has issued a denial, which is a great shame. She doesn’t mention Pitt, but does say that George Clooney has been rumoured as an interested party along the way. He’d make great casting for Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Bloom in the US?), the male lead of the series.

The female lead, Lisbeth Salender, is the series’ most powerful weapon and would be a highly prized role for any actresses in range. In the Swedish films she’s played by Noomi Rapace, pictured at the head of the post, in a true starmaker of a turn. Don’t be surprised if she crosses over to have an American career – heck, she could even end up reprising the role she originated in the Swedish films for these remakes. Anne Thompson suggests Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart or Natalie Portman but I can only really see Page nailing it as already written. Who knows what Zaillian will turn Lisbeth into, though?

Here’s a mini-review from my Frightfest roundup showing just what Rudin and Zaillian would have to live up to, or for that matter straighten out:

This 2 and a half hour adaptation of Steig Larson’s internationally best selling novel played like a good TV mystery drama in the European vein – a Rebus, Wallander or Spiral as opposed to CSI or Without a Trace, say. It wasn’t at all bad, despite being intermittently dull and oftentimes predictable. The best scenes were great though, and there’s one particularly cinematic clue with a series of sequenced photographs that reminded me of something similar in American Gangster. When the film doesn’t work it’s because the adaptation is too faithful to the novel, sticking to the workings of a medium in which long strings of dialogue and verbal exposition are as welcome and functionally suitable as chunks of action.

Note my reference to American Gangster, a previous adaptation with a Steve Zaillian script. Eat that, Nostradamus.

The Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo hits US cinemas in March. Expect to see it on a lot of Year’s Best lists this time next year.

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