Briefly: Fincher’s directing and Rooney Mara’s acting make it painfully clear that Lisbeth Salander doesn’t make any sense next to Mikael Blomkvist. There are two potentially awesome thrillers in both the book and the movies: one stars Blomkvist, and it’s a story about an awesome journalist who’s pretty much an auctorial stand in. The other is a somewhat more interesting story about Swedish traditional culture and the horrible things it does to women, as personified by both Harriet Vanger and Lisbeth Salander. When you mash them together, however, you get a wish-fulfillment piece in which the awesome journalist is just another man using a woman. Blomkvist and Salander should never have met.

I don’t think Steig Larsson realized this. David Fincher might. (Edit: Fincher has mentioned Blomkvist’s misogyny.) Either way, the clarity of Fincher’s directing strips away all the awkwardness of the English translation, and it’s hard to pretend that Salander belongs with Blomkvist at all. You can’t hide the incongruity by making up your own images when they’re right up there on the screen. The parallel tracks of the two central female characters become really obvious. Consider disguises — I wonder, in fact, if that’s part of why Fincher kept the extensive coda. Larsson thought his hero was a different class of father figure, but Fincher lets the darkness through.

Worth seeing. Tremendously disturbing.