Monday, January 16, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In the interest of public disclosure, I feel that I should declare that I find Daniel Craig insanely attractive. I will try to give a professional objective review despite this fact. This is a much more difficult review than I initially anticipated. I will begin by saying that I was a "Larsson virgin" when I saw the first, Swedish version of Dragon Tattoo. I enjoyed it thoroughly and it inspired me to read the trilogy, and watch the subsequent films. There is much controversy about this English language remake. Unfortunately, there will be comparisons throughout this review, due to the fact that the movies were made only two years apart. The plot of the first film is quite a web and very complicated, but I will endeavor to give a brief overview. Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a disgraced journalist who used to work on an independent magazine' who dished the dirt on a high powered businessman without enough proof. He is hired by multi millionaire Henrik Vanger ( a regal Christopher Plummer) to investigate the death of his niece decades ago under the guise of writing his biography. Lisbeth Salander is the computer hacking genius who was initially hired by Vanger to investigate Blomkvist but then becomes his assistant as the plot thickens and they are drawn into a tale of serial murders and abduction. Compounded by this is the fact that Lisbeth is a ward of the state and classified psychopath and her benevolent ward suffers a stroke, throwing her to the mercy of a new ward, who has no morals whatsoever. So how does this movie stand up to the incredible scrutiny of the original? Very well actually, if not better. "What?!" I hear you shriek in disgust. Yes, you read it right, if not better. David Fincher (Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club) is a master story teller, and it shows. The look of it is pristine, from the hard core titles, to the interiors of the rooms, to the bleak Swedish countryside. The editing and script is tight, and the music enhances but never invades. So far so good. The acting is superb. It has to be said that in the Swedish version, apart from the Dragon lady herself, the acting was somewhat wooden. Daniel Craig totally embodies Blomkvist, in the books he's quite the lady's man and is much more believable than Nyqvist in the original. There is also a depth to him and an almost bumbling quality which makes him very human. He also looks hot in glasses and plaid pajamas, but that's beside the point. What of THOSE scenes? If you have read or seen the movie, you will know what I mean, If you don't, you're in for a shock. They are not quite as confronting as the Swedish film, but they still pack a huge punch, as they are intended to. So to the big question. Is Rooney Mara any good as the legendary Lisbeth Salander? Well, she cleverly plays it differently, this is no impersonation of Noomi Rapace. Mara's Salander is far more fragile and androgynous. You have far more sympathy for her, rather than admiration. Lisbeth has been through a huge amount in her life, and her vulnerability along with her courage is palpable. Yes, the ending is different form the original but then that nding was different again from the book, and in a lot of ways this ending is more in tune with the book. Fincher focuses more on relationships and humanity, there is much more from Blomkvist's long term married love and partner in the magazine, played by Robin Wright, in her usual classy style. There is a sadness that envelopes this film and the characters, and I feel that this film benefits from it. It is a stand alone film, thrilling, stylish, very dark and with surprising warmth. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: It's written in ink, this film will become a permanent classic. 8/10.


  1. And Plummer, charmingly, won the Golden Globe last night!

  2. As I have neither read the books or seen any of the previous movies, you have done a really good job in painting a picture of this movies's plot...and it sounds very intriguing! Dying to know what 'those scenes' are now!! Just seen War Horse for the second time - so I'm writing this through swollen eyes xoxo

  3. Interesting to read your comparisons to the original book and film. Glad you picked out the visual style - one of the best trailers I've seen, and the film itself from the Bond-esque titles to its finish looked stunning. An intense film to experience rather than enjoy though? And I'll never think of Enya in the same way again...