December 31, 2011

Review: Follow 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'



I was never really curious about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (aka Män som hatar kvinnor or "Men Who Hate Women") and the Millenium series fanfare, that is, until I learned master filmmaker David Fincher was tapped to film the English-language film adaptation of the Swedish thriller.

Rooney Mara delivers a brave, strong, powerfully-willed performance as the ruthless investigator Lisbeth Salander. Her blankness, emotional control, and sexual aggression make her a compelling character. Mara exemplifies Lisbeth with "a combination of vulnerability and ruthless competence."

Fincher brings cinematic flourish and world building to the supermarket bestseller and television movie style murder mystery plot. The different storylines take their time before converging as we follow the investigation which materializes into an entirely different one quite methodically. The complex plot becomes less and less important and interesting as our heroes and the villains take over the film.

I love procedurals. The gathering of evidence, investigation, and solving a puzzle through human deduction is fascinating to me. Fincher's real-life based procedural serial killer drama Zodiac was some of his best work. Here, Fincher approaches Dragon Tattoo with a coldness and frigidness replicated in the ice-filled, cold Swedish landscape.



Fincher's style and innovation in the serial killer genre starting with Se7en is well-regarded and he approaches Dragon Tattoo differently, making it a more methodical thriller. His stylish visuals add to the plethora of exposition while giving insight to valuable character development.

I felt the very non-Swedish cast of Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, and company a bit distracting with all the fluid, non-accented English and random bits of Swedish language thrown in at various points. Craig plays it very straightforward and standard as the journalist investigating a murder conspiracy.

Fans of adult dramas and murder mysteries should enjoy the unfolding cinematic landscapes of crime against the Swedish landscape. The side stories and extra prose from the novels, while entertaining, only add the luxurious pace of the film's plot. Luckily, I greatly enjoyed the way Fincher executed this small character moments of Mara enacting her bad ass ways.

For many, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will play as a slow, methodical thriller with the usual twists and turns, unfolding murder, and violence against women. Fincher elevates the material with stylish, strong direction casting Mara as a solid female lead.


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