THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Movie Review
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I’ve never read Stieg Larsson’s millennium novels, so I can’t say how faithful this film is to the original material, but I am a big fan of the Swedish adaptation by Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev. Now, I know the fact that Hollywood is obsessed with remakes annoys the hell out of us, but I think there can always be room for different interpretation, different vision and approach and that’s what David Fincher’s version excels in. It’s more detailed, more curious, and more unafraid. It’s a superb and chilling thriller with an astounding performance by Rooney Mara.
Whether or not this version is better can be argued but it certainly is a solid film…
Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.
Rooney Mara, with her skinny body and goth hairstyle and excessive piercings and tattoos and her attitude, I think Mara manages to give a more complex Lisbeth Salander than Noomi Rapace’s portrayal. But it’s mostly thanks to screenwriter Steven Zaillian who covers information that the previous adaptation would simply skim or just talk about instead of exposing it.
Fincher and Zaillian want to seriously show how dark, troubled, but motivated Lisbeth is.
And some may consider this approach to be too brutal or unnecessary but I think it’s no more brutal than Fincher’s previous thrillers like Se7en. This is after all, in its essence, a movie made solely for Fincher’s fans or those who are comfortable with his style.
Jeff Cronenweth’s cinematography work is fantastic by the way, it plays on how much you can handle. It goes along with the script that tends to be explanatory. Whatever loopholes or gaps that the previous adaptation had, Fincher’s film fills it and explains it in its own way.
Lisbeth Salander to me is a rebel, she lives by her own rules, but she’s also by herself, this version wants to instill in her mind the idea that perhaps she could be sociable or she could be considered normal if she just gets that attention that she never did, and that’s what warrants a different ending.
Mara is absolutely phenomenal as Lisbeth, it’s a defining role for Mara, she’s made it her own. She’s fierce, highly driven, but there’s a sense of innocence to her as well.
She thinks her anger and actions are justified and the film successfully encourages us to agree.
All those tattoos and piercings are like ‘keep off’ or ‘stay away’ sign, perhaps because of years of rough background, going from one guardian to another, so when somebody genuine like Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) comes along, he represents the safety that desperately longs for but would never admit to.
I think it’s smart that Fincher and Zailian shows the estranged family side of Blomkvist, they see it as important for Blomkvist to be able to relate to Henrik Vanger’s (Christopher Plummer) dilemma and I think that’s a smart move.
Craig is the weakest link because his accent keeps going on and off, I’m not sure if he even tries to sound Swedish at all, it’s quite the distraction. But he works with what’s given to him, keep in mind that the title is not Blomkvist with the dragon tattoo.
Of course nowadays you can’t talk about Fincher’s movies without talking a bit about the unconventional score by Oscar winners Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor. In fact, the movie pays an amusing homage to NIN.
Those of you film score aficionados would probably find Ross and Reznor’s tunes for this film rather eerie and chilling, which it then pretty much serve its purpose. Having said that, at times I find the score a bit forceful and it’s like the same soundwave echoing over and over again with the intent to hypnotize.
I don’t think the opening graphic credit is all that impressive, it’s an interesting take but it looks out of place, it looks like it should be a separate music video and it doesn’t necessarily introduce the tone of the film that you’re about to see.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is definitely not a movie for the faint of heart, it’s a movie that would rattle your comfort cage, and I think audiences will be divided, you’ll either truly love it, or truly detest it, but there will hardly be a middle ground.
GRADE: 4 out of 5
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