Review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

5 Mar

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) is an American mystery/thriller/drama film, which is the second film adaptation of the novel “Män som hatar kvinnor” by Stieg Larsson.

Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club (1999), Alien 3 (1992)), originally a music video director, that is now known mostly for his dark thrillers.

Written by Steven Zaillian (The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), Schindler’s List (1993)).

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Yorick van Wageningen and others.

Before I start, I must state that I’ve recently also seen the Swedish adaptation of the novel and since it’s so fresh in my memory I can’t avoid comparing the two movies.

I’ll start with the opening credits, which I absolutely loved. So often nowadays all you get is a title card and that’s it. Is our attention span really so short these days, that we can’t take a minute or two of the names of people who made the movie? Since I know a lot of people who would say that opening credits are the unnecessary shit of the times long gone, I guess it is true. Anyway, sometimes filmmakers realise that those couple of minutes while they flash their name on-screen can be filled with something visually pleasing and creative and this one delivers some great looking stuff indeed.

And then we go on in the mystery of the film and while I am going to criticize the movie for being too similar to Niels Arden Oplev’s one, it is nice to see them not trying to make it action packed and deliver us a solid detective movie in the age where even Sherlock Holmes is the main character in action flicks. The mystery itself seemed easier to follow, but mostly due to the fact I had seen it unraveled once before.

What seemed a bit confusing at the beginning was the odd language bending. Thankfully they didn’t decide to change the location to the states, but then again, the mixture of real, fake and not right accents was a bit jarring.

They didn’t tone down the graphic sexual violence, which is also good, but for some reason lacked the same impact. I don’t want to give anything away, but the solution to the mystery also had a lot less impact.

The reason might be Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. Don’t get me wrong, she was good, more than I expected after her blandness in the A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. But she doesn’t deliver what I got from Noomi Rapace. The difference is subtle and I think it could be a matter of preference. Also why are outcasts in movies always into metal or goth or whatever? Are they saying people who prefer these subcultures are socially disabled or are the outcasts instantly drawn into black hair-dye, I’ll never know, but from what I know, it’s bullshit.

Daniel Craig is likable and all here, but the problem is that he is a handsome man, there’s no way I’d see this well-dressed, blond, blue-eyed, walking movie star stubble on the street and think “well, that’s an everyman journalist”.

They stretch some parts longer and some compress, but overall I got the sense I’m seeing less than in the Swedish version, which really made me feel the literal translation of the novel’s title Men Who Hate Women a lot more apparent. This also made me root for Lisbeth more and justified her avoiding of emotional attachment and social interactions.

The ending was a lot more drawn out and also made Lisbeth a lot more romantically interested in Mikael.

Stellan Skarsgard is the best thing about the film, he gives a great performance and his villain speech is just awesome. And having Orinoco Flow by Enya play in the background was an inspired choice.

The score also deserves some praise and Karen O’s cover of Immigrant Song, played over the opening credits was interesting as well.

What I am interested to see is if they will make the sequels, I haven’t seen the Swedish ones yet, but I’ve heard they’re not as good so the American ones can actually improve on that.

But what I found very disappointing is how similar the movie’s are. Yes, Fincher adds some stylistic touches here and there, but overall it’s so close to the Swedish one, at times even the sets and shots seem the same.

Overall, a good, but painfully unnecessary movie, recommended if your eyes can’t handle subtitles, but otherwise give the 2009 one a go first. I know it’s so often said “yeah, but the original was better”, but what can you do if it is.

"Yeah, I had to do a lot of preparation for the role, you know, bleach my eyebrows and all."

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