The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
What we liked
What we didn't
David Fincher had a harder job than most while creating his latest masterpiece; he has not only his source material and the feral fans who will undoubtedly defend it to the death, but also the already classic Swedish 2009 version. However, not only has he forged what can be counted amongst one of the best [...]
David Fincher had a harder job than most while creating his latest masterpiece; he has not only his source material and the feral fans who will undoubtedly defend it to the death, but also the already classic Swedish 2009 version. However, not only has he forged what can be counted amongst one of the best whodunits ever set to screen, but carved his own mark into an already old story.
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist whose name is tarnished after trusting an anonymous source. In an attempt to regain some credibility, he takes a job from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), an elderly millionaire entrepreneur who lives on an island with his family – “thieves, misers, bullies, the most detestable collection of people you will ever meet”, as described by Vanger himself. He’s been looking for clues as to the disappearance of his great-niece Harriet for the last forty years, and believes that Blomkvist can find something in a matter of weeks that he could not in all his time researching.
In desperation, Blomkvist hires assistant Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the titular girl with the dragon tattoo. A punk sociopath with little regard for rules but the mind of a genius, she supports his cause both to find the potential killer and to clear his name from its tarnish. Mara delivers a powerhouse performance; despite not being in the film for much of its runtime she is still the distinctive driving force, elegant in her own grungy persona. She gives a new spin to the character established in the 2009 adaptation by Noomi Rapace (soon to be in cinemas in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus), making every frame of screentime gripping and tense. Undoubtedly tested by one scene, sure to resonate long after you’ve finished watching the film, in which her parole officer rapes her (apparently the actor playing the rapist was so tested by the performance that he spent the next day crying in a room), she performs with such backbone and effect that you cannot help but root for her throughout the story. And her revenge scenes will most definitely have you cheering.
That’s not to say that the rest of the cast are not satisfactory; in fact, they are exemplary. Daniel Craig turns in arguably the best two hours of his career and Christopher Plummer is predictably heartwarming in his elderly character. Stellan Skarsgård is the pick of the supporting cast, playing one of the few family members who isn’t an ex-Nazi.
But the best of the lot has got to be director David Fincher. His phenomenal cinematography – along with long time partner Jeff Cronenweth – is visually stunning from start to finish, each frame a beautiful postcard. He has managed to make a 2 hour 38 minute complex, deep and heavy story into an exciting thriller, with even the slower moments – establishing shots, sweeping cameras and emotional faces frequently among them – never hindering the blistering pace. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor teams up for a second time with Atticus Ross (after Fincher’s last film The Social Network) to compose an alternative, electronic, funky and very, very atmospheric score that fits to the film like a jigsaw piece.
The rape scene and the infrequent violence are both pushed to breaking point, and the gut-punch of who did the whodunit may not hit exactly the right spot with precisely the right amount of force, but ultimately, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an incredibly well made, performed and scored film that is amongst not just the best of the decade, but one of the best adaptations of all time.
An astounding achievement – not just considering the factors against him, David Fincher has created a modern masterpiece with a unique take on a powerful story and career-best performances from its leads. To say that it keeps you hooked from start to finish would be a great understatement: you will be unable to pull your eyes from the silver screen.