The Wednesday Review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Directed by David Fincher
I must first of all clarify that I have not seen the 2009 Swedish version nor have I read the book so this review will not be consisting of comparisons between the different versions.
This makes the question of “was this remake actually worth it?” a little harder to answer as I can only review it upon its own merits. Fortunately this is not difficult as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a damn fine film from beginning to end. Well, pretty much but I will get to that in a bit.
This version was directed by David Fincher who you may remember for a few little known movies such as Fight Club and 2010’s The Social Network which narrowly missed out on best picture at the academy awards. With directing credits such as these the expectations of a tightly made and character centric film are quite high. Fortunately Fincher delivers on these expectations incredibly well.
The film in brief consists of two stories that entwine together to solve a forty year old mystery. Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is an investigative reporter, recently shamed from losing a libel case, who is hired by Henrik Vankger (Plummer) to investigative the death of his niece from over forty years ago, believing that only he can unravel the decadent and immoral lives of his family and discover the truths beneath. Meanwhile Lisbeth Salander (Mara), the titular character of the book, is a deeply troubled social outcast who survives by working as an investigative hacker, stealing information that people try their very best to hide. Her story is much more personally involved with the harsh reality of her dealing with a life of prejudices against her and people taking advantage of her at any moment. She soon she finds herself being hired by Mikael to help with his case and the two begin to discover horrifying secrets that one almost wishes had been left buried.
Without giving too much of the plot away I must make mention of the ideas of gender roles and the concepts of strength, both mental and physical. The casting of Craig, coming off of two James Bond films, really helps cement the themes of inner strength and the misjudgement of appearances. Of the two main characters, the socially stunted, deeply troubled girl is by far and away the strongest of the two and the one most willing to get the job done in spite of the normality that people impose. Other reviewers have compared Lisbeth to being a “grounded and realistic portrayal of hollywood women heroes” and I believe that this is fairly true. Her skills are many and she does not back down however there is a real vulnerability to her character that cements it as being “this could be real”. Rooney Mara has to be heavily complemented for this role. It cannot have been an easy one to fill but she was a remarkable stand out amongst an already great cast. Definitely and without doubt an award winning performance.
I would very much recommend the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo however I must say that the film does not quite end after the ending of the main plot and feels like the false endings of The Return of the King that the internet has made fun of for many a year. A few minutes cut out there may have helped improve the pacing but this is still a minor nitpicking.
Go see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it is not a dumb downed Hollywood remake in the slightest and is a tense, exciting, somewhat disturbing but overall excellent movie.
Four and a half false endings out of five.