Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (2011)

Release date: December 21, 2011
Director: David Fincher
Novel by: Stieg Larsson
Screenplay by: Steven Zaillian
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Joely Richardson, Goran Visnjic, Ulf Friberg, Joel Kinnaman

First of all, I haven’t seen the Swedish film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Haven’t read the book either. But I can tell you that David Fincher’s version of the first part of the Millennium series was very interesting to watch.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows Mikael Blomkvist (Craig), a journalist who just lost a libel case against businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström (Friberg). Blomkvist ends up having his reputation damaged and owing a huge sum of money to Wennerström’s company. Despite his recent problem, Henrik Vagner (Plummer) hires Mikael to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of his niece.

Mikael begins to work on the task by investigating Henrik’s family (Skarsgård, James & Richardson). But once he can’t do more on his own, he joins forces with computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara).

Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon is pretty much a dark, brutal and intriguing film to watch thanks to the ingredients it showcases, such as its stylish design that nicely joins the storytelling – delicately crafted through the eyes of Mikael and Lisbeth as they handle the investigation – and keeps the viewer hooked. The nature of the film’s characters — well executed by solid performances from the cast — is dark yet appealing. The film is further enhanced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score, which haunts the film, providing a chilling aspect.

However, it’s Rooney Mara who stands out the most in Dragon Tattoo and gives everyone their money’s worth. Look at that poster! Even without watching the film you already know that Lisbeth Salander is by far the most interesting character of Dragon Tattoo. Mara fully submerges herself with style and spark into the role of a no-bullshit punk-goth computer-hacking woman with a past so violent you can smell it from miles away. Every second of Mara gracing the screen is a delight to watch.

The only problem with Fincher’s adaptation of Larsson’s novel is the film’s pacing, in particular the final minutes of the film and a few scenes involving Mikael. Don’t get me wrong, Daniel Craig’s performance as Mikael was good. But Mikael becomes more interesting to watch only when he is paired with Lisbeth and/or interacting with a cat, the latter providing some comic relief to the film. The final minutes of the film starts to lose some steam after the case is solved, rendering the rest of the scenes a bit hard and even unnecessary to watch. And while the film clocks in at 158 minutes, I ended up feeling that it was 30 minutes too long.

Overall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn’t the best film David Fincher has done. However, his film adaptation of the Swedish novel is a stylish thriller worth the watch thanks to Rooney Mara’s Academy Award-nominated performance.

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Rodrigo

YAM Magazine contributor, has a B. Sc. degree in Science/Pharmacy and is a very lazy person.

20 Responses

  1. amy says:

    Alright then, it’s time to comment on this. I actually didn’t hate the film, but I agree that there was some issues with the pacing. At times I felt it was rushing, and at others it felt like dragging… there was never a middle point. However, I think that comes from the fact that the book actually has the same issues… this adaptation is much closer to the book, not that THAT makes this version better for me. In fact, I would have preferred the movie would’ve gotten rid off them…

    I also think that the style of the film was very good – but that’s it to me. It was gloss. It was a really nice gloss, but I prefer some of the characteristics of the Swedish version despite the lack of gloss.

    Though Mara’s Salander is much closer to the description of Salander in the book, I felt Rapace’s performance was much more challenging for the audience.

    If you feel like you needed less Mikael and more Lisbeth in this one, I think you’d enjoy the Swedish version. I don’t know if you’ll be able to overlook the lack of gloss, though. I mean, seriously, at a budget 1/9 of this one, it’s an even more memorable performance.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, I actually expected you to hate this film considering your thoughts on the Swedish version and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth. Glad you didn’t.

      My brother thought it was alright, yet confusing. My cousin and his girlfriend liked it more than my brother did. A few days ago, we spent a few minutes talking about TGWTDT and thinking about its predictability regarding one of the characters. But we also agreed that TGWTDT had one pretty good trick hidden.

      I’m willing to give the Swedish version a shot one day. Has TGWTDT hit on cable? It seems like the kind of film that could air on Cinemax around here.

      • amy says:

        @Rodrigo, I think I’ve seen it on cable. I would really put Rapace’s performance ahead of Mara’s because I felt they tried so hard to make Lisbeth likable in the film. At least, my experience reading the book, it was challenging for me to like her as a character, and that was translated to me on the Swedish version.

        In the sex scene with Mikael, Noomi is way brasher, it almost intimidated me. Actually, both characters are hard to like in the Swedish version hahaha~ The glossy look on the film also took away the bleak reality of the story for me, now that I think about it.

        Then again, this version touches in some of the aspects that soften Lisbeth (in the other Swedish movies), which makes me feel like they’re only planning to make this movie just because it’s the only one that’s worth it. Really.

        I hate it when people say this one is better just for the mere fact that this is making more money… while people avoid the fact that this has a US distributor pushing it, and the other one didn’t. And I hate it when people say this is an effing masterpiece, which it isn’t…

        • Rodrigo says:

          @amy, From the little I’m seeing of Hornet’s Nest right now on cable, I think I could deal with look of the Swedish film without much problems at all.

          I think I’ll try to see TGWPWF first before fully checking out TGWKTHN. Or should I start with the Swedish version of TGWTDT?

        • amy says:

          @Rodrigo, I would suggest you watch it from the get-go since the pacing of the American version might set you up for a different experience with the others.

  2. DiegoCanales says:

    @MakeYourSelf Great Review, i wanna see it first to coment here.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @DiegoCanales, Thanks, Diego. I think Dragon Tattoo is still airing at the theaters. See it if you can. I bet you could enjoy Rooney Mara’s performance without any problem.

  3. Camiele says:

    I’m still not sure if I want to see this because I know that the Swedish version is better. I’ll take content over gloss any day of the week. I think I tend to be more attracted to grittiness than high-gloss most of the times. Unless it’s gloss for the sake of imagery (as in The Lovely Bones or The Matrix), sometimes gloss is just a way to hide some very obvious shortcomings in storytelling, acting, plot, or a combination of the three (Avatar anyone… anyone?)

    But, maybe I should give this one a shot… I’m still thinking about it. It’s definitely gonna wait until I can see it for free, though. So if I’m disappointed it wouldn’t have cost me anything… HaHa.

    • amy says:

      @Camiele, I didn’t think the gloss in this one wasn’t to hide something. I really think it’s part of the actual story, and it captures the feel of the book. The intro sequence is really REALLY cool (okay, that was pure gloss LOL), but I also thought the books weren’t THAT good. That’s why I thought the Swedish version was better – to me it improved on a book that rambled quite a bit.

      Then again, people say the book is a masterpiece or something, and that renders the Swedish version almost useless. This one is a slightly closer adaptation to the book. Except for the ending, I thought it was less affecting here.

      I don’t know about The Lovely Bones compared to the book – many said the books is faaaar superior, but I do recognized this one is stunning to look at. The Matrix is still stunning after all this years, and I’ve already stated it’s the only 3D re-release I would pay for.

      And Avatar is pure gloss. LOL But it’s a regular fantasy gloss – not unique enough to stand out on its own. It was enough that one time in 3D. It’s so standard fantasy that you’ll find little to be excited about in a future viewing… unlike, lets say: something with Jim Henson fantasy puppets xD

      • Camiele says:

        @amy, It’s kind of funny how people cling to books and lambaste film adaptations. Really, one should just think of them as separate entities. For instance, the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is amazing, but the 1971 film adaptation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is far superior to the 2005 version, which follows the book down to the funny songs the Oompa Loompas sing.

        I still need to read The Lovely Bones, but I’m willing to bet it probably does surpass the film. However, I think Pete did a brilliant job with it, capturing the poetry of it.

        Like I said, I shall give this version of Tattoo a chance just because it’s only fair… but I just have a sneaking suspicion that the Swedish version is better. So, I think I just need to decide which one I’ll watch first.

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