The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2012-01-05 13:22
 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
What it's about:

Hoping to distance himself from the fallout of a libel conviction, Journalist Mikael Blomkvist retreats to a remote island in Sweden's far north, where the unsolved murder of a young girl still haunts her industrialist uncle, forty years later. Ensconced in a cottage on the island where the killer may still roam, Blomkvist's investigation draws him into the secrets and lies of the rich and powerful and throws him together with one unlikely ally - tattooed punk hacker Lisbeth Salander.

What we thought:

Hollywood has commandeered Sweden's big literary export, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, without compromising the story's Scandinavian roots or its sense of barrenness, even hopelessness.

It could have been transplanted Stateside for American audiences, but thankfully, what happens in Sweden stays in Sweden in David Fincher's stark but enthralling adaptation of the first novel in late author Stieg Larsson's trilogy.

Its harsh emotional terrain, where cruelty flourishes and compassion suffocates, could have wound up softened and sweetened, yet this was an ideal match of filmmaker and material. Fincher's one of the least sentimental directors in Hollywood. If anything, his Dragon Tattoo is even bleaker than the 2009 Swedish-language hit.

Rooney Mara, who had a small role in Fincher's The Social Network, gives a controlled detonation of a performance as traumatized victim-turned-avenger Lisbeth Salander. Mara's the breakout star of the year, a cold, detached waif in form, a fearsome, merciless zealot in spirit.

How strange it is to say that the nice guy here is Daniel Craig - who, of all the big-screen James Bonds, comes closest to the nasty, tortured soul Ian Fleming created.

Mara and Craig make an indomitable screen pair, he nominally leading their intense search into decades-old serial killings, she surging ahead, plowing through obstacles with flashes of phenomenal intellect and eruptions of physical fury.

A ward of the state since an act of childhood violence, Lisbeth has been at the mercy, and mostly the malice, of others for so long that she anticipates and incorporates their brutality into her own calculations for maintaining control of her life.

Peerless as a computer hacker, Lisbeth finds occasional employment with a security company, for whom she runs a not-too-legal background check on disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig).

The company's client, retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires Mikael to make a last-ditch effort to find out who killed his beloved teenage grand-niece, who vanished 40 years earlier.

Mikael eventually persuades aloof, suspicious Lisbeth -  who has every reason in the world to revile men as a loyal order of perpetrators of violence against women  - to join his investigation.

The film is gripping early on, when Lisbeth and Mikael are on their own. Once they team up, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo takes on a relentless though unhurried momentum as the two find links between the girl's disappearance and a series of murders of young women butchered in unspeakable ways.

Craig is an anchor of cool rationality and judiciousness around which Mara revolves like a demon. With her body piercings, black leather and hooded jackets that seem like her version of a mad monk's cowl, Lisbeth tears about icy Sweden on her motorcycle, wan, scrawny, scarier than any of the night creatures in Hollywood's glut of vampire movies.

She is horribly violated by a social worker appointed as her new guardian, a sickening scene balanced by Lisbeth's equally bestial act of vengeance. You perversely want to cheer Lisbeth for her triumph while bemoaning the world that made her such a pitiless creature.

Screenwriter Steven Zaillian, an Academy Award winner for Schindler's List, again adapts a dense literary work with a sharp eye for the most critical exchanges. Craig shares some delicious moments with Plummer, along with Robin Wright as his lover and magazine co-owner and Stellan Skarsgard as one of the more personable members of the rather despicable Vanger clan.

Rarely a filmmaker of brevity, Fincher gives Zaillian room to let the story and characters reveal themselves slowly.

The film could stand some surgery to nip away at the excessive, repetitive sequences of discovery as Lisbeth and Mikael endlessly scan old photos, files and newspaper clippings. We get that they're ace researchers; we don't need to see so much of the paperwork.

What is wonderful to see is the grand severity of the northern Sweden landscapes. Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth captures the coldness of the climate and remoteness of the countryside in a tactile fashion to complement the frosty and distant nature of the characters.

This is a team that deserves an encore, and Larsson left behind two more novels loaded with more dark doings for Lisbeth and Mikael. We haven't seen the last of this tattooed girl.




Hollywood has commandeered Sweden's big literary export without compromising the story's Scandinavian roots or its sense of barrenness, even hopelessness.
Read more on:    rooney mara  |  david fincher  |  daniel craig  |  movies

Charlotte 2012/01/06 6:20 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Brilliant movie!
russell copley 2012/01/07 6:19 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
intense. macabre, yet very down to earth. a masterpiece in making perversion real without the predictable hollywood shlock horror. awesome movie!
P W 2012/01/07 11:05 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Best books that I have ever read.
P W 2012/01/07 11:05 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Best books that I have ever read.
Anelia 2012/01/07 7:07 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Have never read the books, but saw the movie today and it was EXCELLENT. The reality potrayed in the movie is disturbingly true. All I can say is WOW!!!
Katt Schreiber 2012/01/07 7:14 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
The original swedish version is far more superior, trust the americans to get the story wrong,and to change it to suit themselves the books were brilliant, this movie was utterly appalling, I was disappointed in this movie
Joe 2012/01/08 10:17 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I have seen the Swedish trilogy on dvd, and although it was also very good, I felt that the american version was better.. Go and see for yourself and decide...?
andrew 2012/01/09 1:54 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
i sea the movie on 6- 1-12 it is n good movie go sea it ,
Dirk 2012/01/09 2:07 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Read the series, watched the series with subtitles. Cant wait to see the pimped up US version. Love it!
BrendaB 2012/01/09 3:25 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I have to agree with Katt...they did the same thing with 'Death at a Funeral', the original British version was hysterically funny and then the yanks had to go and ruin it!
Gizovibe 2012/01/09 3:49 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Brilliant movie...cant wait to see the second part of the trilogy
Allen Visser 2012/01/09 4:25 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Brilliant movie, nice conversion to English without losing the feel of the original Swedish movies with English subtitles. Awesome trilogy!
Nico 2012/01/10 6:52 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I never read the books so for it was just brilliant.
Thelma 2012/01/10 9:10 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I've also seen the Swedish trilogy on DVD. Enjoyed part 1 & 2 but a bit disappointed with part 3. Did not enjoy the ending. I will definitely go and watch the American version. Did not read the books.
MOSS 2012/01/10 2:06 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
THIS TATOO THINGS IS REALLY CRAP
gina 2012/01/10 11:10 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
absolutely love the movie..
Arnold 2012/01/12 1:58 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
This version is so poor, I recommend people watch the original swedish version, just a pathetic attempt by Hollywood to make money - shame! Vomit! What a rip off!
Sharon M 2012/01/12 3:57 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
The books are fantastic ! They have to be read ! I totally enjoyed Daniel Craig playing the part of Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara - excellent as Lisbeth Salander ! Loved the film. Cannot wait for the next one !
mavis 2012/01/12 8:23 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
..a very great movie indeed.thumbz up:-)
Shaun 2012/02/03 11:35 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Brilliant and intense, have not seen a better movie in a long time. This girl knows her stuff, I smell an Oscar.
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.