Movies: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I decided to brush the dust off this blog today and do a little opinion piece on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve read the book and watched the Swedish movie, and I believe this is one of the times where  Hollywood got it right. In fact,  Hollywood did it better than the others. Of the three versions, this one is probably my favorite.

Going into it, I didn’t have the perspective of watching a mystery because I knew how it ended. So I watched for the acting and the cinematography and the overall feel of the film (not that I thought it was a feel good film, but I got to focus on more than just the constant “I bet he did it…I bet she did it” thought processes I usually experience when watching a mystery).

A quick, spoiler free synopsis: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by a rich business man to solve the mystery of what happened to his niece forty years prior when she disappeared without a trace. During his investigation, Mikael enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker with a photographic memory, to help him solve the mystery that also encompasses the strange murders of several women.

It’s a dark movie, and there are several scenes that are highly inappropriate for young children (though the couple in front of me brought there young daughter who couldn’t have been more than 8). If you’re not familiar with anything about the movie, there is a particularly brutal rape scene that makes me very uncomfortable. I didn’t realize how much until I started getting anxious the closer the scene got (I feel this says something good about me…I’m not completely corrupted no matter how many other graphic movies have failed to phase me).

TGWtDT doesn’t offer any big shoot ’em up scenes or action sequences. It’s a quiet, slower movie that relies heavily on its characters and the mystery aspect.  I love Lisbeth Salander.  There are those that would argue against her being a “strong” female, but I believe she is because she endures the things that life throws at her (and there’s alot of it, more that’s revealed in the next two books).

The casting for the movie was great. Daniel Craig makes a good Blomkvist…sullen, dry, yet likable in his own way.  I’d heard through the grapevine…meaning I’d read on some forums and comment threads…that some people didn’t think Rooney Mara would do as well as the girl from the original Swedish version, but she was pretty amazing in the role of Lisbeth.  The rest of the cast was good, especially when compared with the book and the original movie.

I think what Fincher does well is to take out the elements of the story that made it drag. There were a few changes , but they were ones that worked for the story and didn’t detract from the plot. The movie also has good comedic timing. It’s not a comedy, but there are moments in which a line is delivered in just the right way to elicit a chuckle. A very small chuckle, but definitely something to ease the dark mood of the movie.

My favorite part of the whole film was the opening sequence, a mirage of dark images involving computer cords and hardware wrapped around human figures and set to Trent Reznor’s remake of  “Immigrant Song.” I can’t explain it well enough to do it justice,  but even if you don’t watch the whole movie, when it comes out on DVD, find a way to watch it.

The movie gets a solid A grade from me, and I can’t wait to see the next two in the series. I think if Fincher stays on as the director, they’re bound to be good.


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