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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

December 21, 2011

Lisbeth Salander: I’ve taken care of myself since I was ten.

After a number of successful advertisements and a killer tagline (the feel bad movie of Christmas), along with some of the best-edited trailers and TV-spots, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo successfully managed to make it to the prestigious spot of my most anticipated film of the year. What better way to close a fantastic year of film than with a new film from Director David Fincher? There are numerous aspects to behold here, such as the mesmerizing performances from Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, along with a superlative soundtrack that really sets a gloomy tone. While I did find some problems here, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo manages to be a well-crafted film that has earned its title as the feel bad movie of Christmas.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a real zeitgeist-type film, with an incredible mix of film noir as well as a real gloomy setting. Filmed in mostly Sweden (Drottninggatan, Uppsala), this English-language film is an adaption of the Swedish novel of the same name by late author Stieg Larsson. Dragon Tattoo is the first of a three-film story arc, which is only the lead-in to what will be a insanity-filled two sequels. If you have seen the Swedish versions of the trilogy (which are available via streaming on Netflix), or if you have read The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest then you have some sort of idea how the adventures of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig, in this film) and Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, in this film) progress throughout this wonderfully put-together trilogy.

The fact that I was widely familiar with the Swedish versions of the film, it did take away much of the excitement and mystery from the plot. While there are minor differences I noticed throughout (the ending, for example), it did inject some fresh plot points into the story; thanks to the fantastic script by Steven Zaillian (Moneyball, Schindler’s List). Zaillian’s script manages to be faithful to Larsson’s source material, while adding some of his own sugar and spice. A bunch does stay the same, though; Rooney Mara highly resembles Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander. This brings me to my next dissection, Rooney Mara.

While Noomi Rapace totally dominated Lisbeth Salander in the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara (who had a small role in Fincher’s previous film, The Social Network) went out and one-upped her with this supercharged, flawless, and ultimately fearless role. Mara must have some balls, and I can’t imagine any other actress being as brilliant as Mara here. She bleeds brilliance and gives an emotionally resonant performance that is certain to win her an award come oscar season. Don’t think that I’m underplaying my love for Daniel Craig, so I’ll go into his role a bit.

As a giant fan of Craig’s work; Casino Royale and Layer Cake are two grand examples, I was unsure about Dragon Tattoo. Michael Nyqvist handled the role extremely well in all three films, and at the rate Craig’s going, he might as well surpassed him! At first, Craig plays Blomkvist quite low-key, until about half-way through, once Salander and him team up to find a killer of women. While many audiences will be more interested in Mara’s role (she has a couple of “memorable” scenes), fans of Craig will be most pleased. 

David Fincher is one of my favorite directors. I’ve seen Fight Club probably 50+ times and haven’t gotten sick of it one bit. While the first three minute opening sequence brings back memories of the opening of Fight Club, this outdid itself and managed to be a visually stunning montage that plays Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross superb variation of Immigrant Song. Unlike Fincher’s previous films, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn’t have much “Fincher” in it. This feels like a pretty standard directorial film. With the subject matter involved, I expected much more. Last year, The Social Network wowed audiences with an unexpected mix of wit and humor, while Tattoo bleeds plainness through some moments. Nevertheless, there are certain aspects to admire about this film; the acting, writing, and score make The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the feel bad movie of Christmas.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo = 4 out of 5


4 Comments leave one →
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