The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Director: David Fincher

Notable Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright

Rating: R

Review:  Thanks to numerous points of interest, the American film adaptation of Steig Larsson’s bestselling novel garnered a huge buzz throughout production.  All those involved brought something special to the table: Fincher’s impressive backlog of efforts such as The Social Network, Seven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club…ect.  Back again were Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross, who scored The Social Network for Fincher, winning the Oscar for Best Original Score.  Rooney Mara was offered a career changing role, playing a character emotionally scarred and independent.  Daniel Craig was attempting to redeem himself from Dream House.  The list continues.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo deals with harsh themes, disturbing and brutal scenes that depict just how dark Larsson’s story is, and Fincher sure doesn’t shy away from dubbing down the visuals.  So, does Fincher deliver another Best Picture nominee this year?  With the 10 slots open, it’s very possible Dragon Tattoo squeaks in the running, but the stronger Oscar contender from this film has to be Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Giants royalty Rooney Mara.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo story follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) who is being sued for printing a false article.  His reputation ruined, Mikael decides to step down as the face of Millenium magazine and accepts a personal job chronicling the life of mogul Henrik Vanger (Plummer).  Moving onto the small island which most the remaining Vangers call home, Mikael starts digging into the family members for any information, welcomed by now face of the Vanger name Martin (Skarsgard).  But Henrik is most concerned with one hidden piece of information: the mysterious death of beloved niece Harriet.  Still eating away at Henrik after all these years, he tells Mikael to uncover the truth by any means possible, in return for information that could potentially bury the man who sued him.  As time rolls on, Mikael realizes the Vanger family may be too much to handle alone, and hires an investigator/computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Mara) to help.  But as the skeletons from the Vanger family closet are discovered, Mikael’s job becomes more and more dangerous.  Together, Mikael and Lisbeth must track down a killer from over 40 years ago, while attracting the least amount of attention from those closest to the case.  Keep your friends close…

Very Minnie Driver looking at the right angle, but way more badass…

Don’t worry Rooney Mara, after that performance as Lisbeth (the girl our title references) you won’t be needing any more Nightmare on Elm Street type gigs to promote your name.  Never again.  After reading all three books, Mara decided the role had to be hers, but became skeptical at her chances of winning it.  Well, here she is now full of various brand new piercings, bleached eyebrows, and the soon to be iconic haircut of heroine Lisbeth Salander.  As an actress, Lisbeth is a challenge from the start because not only is the character a one woman army, but also a victim.  Her psyche bounces from depressive and abused to female James Bond, never settling into a set of repeated mannerisms.  Mara’s portrayal had to encompass a range of emotions in Lisbeth, but oh was Mara convincing.  And not to mention courageous.  This young actress went full force into a character that is raped, has numerous fully nude sex scenes, is an action hero, and not to mention choc full of quirky ticks.  It was chilling the amount of hyper-realism Rooney drew into an especially brutal rape scene where her social worker takes advantage of her, being physically hard to watch.  Aside from that, she brought a vivid spunky life to a character that displays zero emotion otherwise.  Silent, but deadly.  Lisbeth is private, forceful, quiet, and flies under the radar; yet Mara’s performance spoke volumes for a character mentally scarred from a young age.  Her character is so complex, after a full two and half hour film we still feel as if we haven’t been exposed to Lisbeth 100%.  The actual girl with the dragon tattoo is easily one of, if not the, most intriguing and watchable characters of 2011; a testament to what this firecracker Rooney Mara can achieve.  A Nightmare on What Street?

One cannot deny David Fincher’s style either, delivering a gushing cinegasm in the form of opening credits mere minutes into the film.  Mind = Blow.  All the images are created using this floating CGI metallic liquid, like Mercury, swirling around to the frantic beat of Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and vocalist Karen O’s (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) hard rockin’ part gothic part alternative metal cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song.”  This high energy lead in worked perfectly as an attention grabber, and was probably the most balls to the wall exciting opening credits in recent film history.  Cleverly, Fincher gets the blood flowing early, which is enough to carry us through the denser story building material otherwise yawn worthy…but necessary.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a super sexualized thriller with pizzazz.  I love Reznor/Ross’s take on dramatic music, filled with the punky offbeat spirit Salander is made of.  They effectively build intensity along with mystery, giving the film a stand out style as opposed to classic investigative tales.  Opt for something orchestral here, and Fincher would have a completely different film.

The question to studio heads now is, does The Girl Who Played With Fire get green-lit and should Fincher be attached as director again?  Shut up.  Yes you dummy, of course it should!  And yes, after this effort, Fincher HAS to be involved.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is still an accomplishment for all those involved and those not mentioned above.  Names like Skarsgard, Craig, and Plummer weren’t just for show.  I stayed clean by neither reading the books nor seeing the original films, so as of now I’m waiting anxiously for Mara to transform into Lisbeth Salander yet again, especially because the stage is now set for Lisbeth and Mikael to evolve in their respective situations.  Larsson’s story is nowhere near done, and neither should this film franchise.

Final Rating: 8 painful piercings out of 10

Real or fake for this film….


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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1 Response to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

  1. Pingback: 2011: Recap of the Good, the Bad, and Everything Else | Cinema Scrutiny

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