Review Roundup: Who’s the Better Lisbeth Salander?


In 2009, audiences were knocked out by Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, the punk lesbian hacker at the center of Niels Oplev’s Swedish film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and one of the most poweful heroines to hit the big screen this decade. Yesterday, a new Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, was born in David Fincher’s English-language version. So who’s the better Lisbeth? We rounded up the critics’ widely divergent opinions. Tell us yours in the comments.

“Mara’s Salander is not a carbon copy of the spiky-haired menace Noomi Rapace played in the Oplev version. She’s funnier, as well as more plaintive, in her deadpan aplomb.” –J. Hoberman, SF Weekly

“Mara doesn’t fare as well in the title role as Noomi Rapace did in the original. As the victimized but feisty computer hacker, she looks the part with her Goth style. But there’s a fragility to her portrayal that undermines the more vicious acts of defiance Salander pulls off.” –Claudia Puig, USA Today

“As Lisbeth Salander, the sullen 24-year-old waif hacker who’s the story’s spectacularly outlandish heroine, Rooney Mara is a revelation…What Mara’s performance captures — and what Noomi Rapace’s, for all her skill in the Swedish version, didn’t — is that Lisbeth’s erotic ferocity is a product of the detached, cyber-porn era. She can jump Blomkvist’s bones because she compartmentalizes her desire.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“Rooney Mara, like Noomi Rapace, fully inhabits the role of Lisbeth Salander — punk Terminatrix, computer whiz, and avenger of women against privileged wickedness.” — Peter Keough, The Phoenix

“Salander first hit screens two years ago, played with sullen intensity by Noomi Rapace in the acclaimed Swedish version of the Millennium trilogy, but it is Rooney Mara’s superstar-making turn that will bring the character to a wider audience. Not since the Alien films, led by Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, has there been a female-led cult series with so much potential for mass appeal – to men and women alike.” — Alice Jones, The Independent

“Rooney Mara, I love you, but Noomi Rapace — The other Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — is spellbinding.” — Megan Angelo, Glamour

“For those familiar with the Swedish versions of the Stieg Larsson trilogy, the idea of anyone besides Noomi Rapace in this role may be unthinkable. But Rooney Mara brings her own quality to this tattooed, heavily pierced, omnisexual loner, making her slightly less feral, slightly more vulnerable.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle