Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

If you touch me I’ll more than alarm you

The original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo boasted an impressive performance from Noomi Rapace as the titular character, though the film itself came across as a rather dour and slow murder mystery.

With a Hollywood remake fast-tracked into production and Se7en and Fight Club director David Fincher at the helm, you’d think it’d have all the ingredients to be an amazing film given Fincher’s past reputation with stories that centre on obsessive characters.

It’s effectively the same story with a few more twists. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is given the opportunity clear his name when he’s asked to investigate the Vanger family by their patriarch Henrik (Christopher Plummer). He’s helped in his search by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a young, socially disruptive hacker.

The mystery at the heart of the film is unsatisfying, though this approach feels deliberate. The film is not wholly concerned about the mystery and the identity of the killer is fairly obvious. The mystery itself is conceivably misdirection on Fincher’s part who’s more interested in the story of Salander and Blomkvist’s relationship.

Craig is understated as Blomkvist who’s a bit of a wimp, the kind of man who’s too polite to say no. Rooney’s Salander on the other hand is a feral presence and the film’s highlight. Together they form the fulcrum and the film wouldn’t be as good without those two performances.

Unlike the original, Salander is more of a girl (a child even), who’s socially awkward and tucks into McDonald’s Happy Meals. Mara’s tiny frame gives her Salander a fragile feel and like Heath Ledger’s Joker she fully inhabits the role, making of the most of this punk-styled character.

Fincher brings his meticulous approach, upping the tempo and slowing it down (the first five minutes are like an extended trailer). With bursts of violence and a less than cheerful look (memories are coated with a sepia tinged haze), it’s identifiably a Fincher film but that central mystery is a lacklustre one that even he doesn’t seem all that interested in.

Regardless The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a film with an absorbing performance and is the far superior of the Dragon Tattoo adaptations. For Rooney’s performance and the atmosphere Fincher creates it should be seen.


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