Tuesday, 3 January 2012


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [Review]

Opinion: B+

Despite being a technically well-crafted piece of filmmaking by acclaimed David Fincher, the English language remake of the Swedish original induced some wonders and nothing further. Strange that Fincher's take was relatively conservative where the sexual violence and dark demeanour were restrained a notch or two from expectation. Rooney Mara had never shone brighter in her career with her willingness to undergo physical transformation and practice method acting, but it doesn't save the empty film from grace.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first film in Columbia Pictures’ three-picture adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s literary blockbuster The Millennium Trilogy. Directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, the film is based on the first novel in the trilogy, which altogether have sold 50 million copies in 46 countries and become a worldwide phenomenon. The screenplay is by Steven Zaillian.

Before I end up being mistaken for branding this film as a worthless piece of trash, it was not. Amidst all the blatant criticism that might be firmly featured in this opinion article, Fincher's filmmaking techniques and methods were unquestionable.

Technically brilliant, camerawork and art direction were strongly enforcing Fincher's signature over this film. The chilling snowscape set location of Sweden and Norway added the much desired authenticity of the original. But it seemed that the film paid a lot more homage to the original than expected.

Sprouting Swedish-accented English, Rooney Mara seemed to be comfortable in pulling it off but it added that false facade of identity over everything. This immediately triggered reminiscence of Matt Reeves' "Let Me In" in comparison, a recent remake of Swedish horror "Let the Right One In".

To be honest, the first two acts of the film saw the male and female protagonists spending screen presence apart. It was never easy to pace them in sync with each other to retain that string of relativity through that long stretch of reel time. Niels Arden Oplev's original wasn't perfect but it worked. Fincher on contrary perfected each scene individually but when edited together, unexplainable voids were felt and detected. The quick edits, which was a Fincher trait, didn't allow the film space to develop its detailed mystery plot pieces sufficiently.

The entire film, which lasted for about 160 minutes, wasn't cohesive enough until Lisbeth and Blomkvist crossed path when affairs improved.

Kudos to Rooney Mara who had courageously made a bold decision that would prove critically pivotal in her career. Never had she outdone herself with her willingness to accept extreme physical transformation and literally stepped into the skin of Gothic punk computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Method acting champion of the year would surely go to Mara.

While Mara's rendition of Lisbeth was good, it still lacked the depth and aloofness of Noomi Rapace's character portrayal. Rapace was the one who breathed life into Lisbeth's character and the characterisation work done was nearly impeccable. Distinctly recalled Rapace's Lisbeth stepping into Blomkvist room and straddled him briefly to climax before stepping out of the room almost immediately. That odd behaviour nailed Lisbeth's shifty character with an abused history so well, nothing could be better.

On a side note, I had an issue with the sound mix. Viewed it in a theatre that offered the film in Dolby Surround 7.1 but often I found Daniel Craig's dialogues a tad bit too soft and inaudible for liking. Adding on the fake Swedish accent, it made the experience a little discomforting. Not sure if it was an isolated case of my theatre's sound settings though.

The original music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross was brilliant and complemented the film's contemporary take well, which was vibrantly felt in the graphical opening sequence playing against their take of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song.

One could condemn my inferior opinion of this highly anticipated film of 2011 to the sky high expectation harboured prior the screening (which I personally attribute much to it as well), but nevertheless it might boil down to whether one had viewed Oplev's original before entering a Fincher's take.

I would say that it's still good to start off with the original for those who're new to the series, which was what had gotten everybody in volatile hype over Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy in the beginning. While, there's a good number of audience members watching it for Fincher, there's a lot more catching it because they were awed by Oplev's film.


  1. It's how long? Whoa... I've seen all three of the original versions and decided I didn't need to see the remake.

  2. I will see this as I want to see both versions. Have not seen either as yet. I am not particularly looking forward to the graphic rape scene as Boys Don't Cry upset me hugely. But, Lisbeth is a tremendously strong female character and it's great to see someone like her featured in a Hollywood movie of this scale.

  3. @Alex Yes it's 160 minutes. Haha. But the original was also as lengthy if I didn't recall wrongly. If you've seen all 3 originals, then I guess yes you might like to give this a miss. Thanks for commenting Alex :)

  4. @Melissa Yes, much to the contrary of some thoughts out there, I agree with you that this film is all about Lisbeth. After all it was a character written by Stieg Larsson to help ease his past guilt.

    While Lisbeth is an alluring character (I want her for BFF), Mara's transformation is commendable. Do share once you catch this, love to hear your thoughts of it ;)

    Thanks Mel for dropping by! :)


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