Sean K. Cureton

A Revue of Feminism and Violence

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on January 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Theatrical Poster

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
3 1/2 out of 4 stars
Directed by David Fincher

After last year’s The Social Network, one would think that the Academy award nominated director David Fincher might want to take a year or two off before delivering his next feature film. Instead, Fincher decided to immediately delve into his next project, the eagerly anticipated US adaptation of the Steig Larsson novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millenium trilogy.

Fincher’s adaptation of Larsson’s novel delivers on every level where the Swedish adaptation, released in 2009, did not. Where the Swedish film was slow, amateurish, and lifeless, Fincher’s film is fast paced, expertly shot and edited together, and has been given the best cast possible. Where the 2009 Swedish film contained only one truly notable performance, given by actress Noomi Rapace as the heroin protagonist Lisbeth Salander, Fincher has put together a cast that is filled with great actors all assigned to a part perfect for each of them to play.

Most notably, casting Daniel Craig as the male protagonist Mikael Blomkvist was a perfect decision, as he breathes humanity into Blomkvist in Fincher’s film, where Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist was dull and questionably breathing at all. Rooney Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, taking over for Rapace, and fills the bill perfectly, while also making the role her own. Where Rapace was considerably older than Mara, and thus played a slightly less innocent looking Lisbeth, Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth is slightly younger, which makes her character’s tormented and violent personality all the more powerful and shocking when the most distressing scenes in the film arrive.

In addition to the protagonists, Fincher also captured a great performance from Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, the man who hires Blomkvist to solve a murder case that much of the film revolves around. Plummer was a pitch perfect choice for this role, as was casting Stellan Skarsgard as one of the film’s villains, Martin Vanger. Skarsgard’s portrayal of Martin Vanger is menacing and absolutely frightening, which is exactly what the character calls for.

However, Fincher’s adaptation of Larsson’s novel does not evade one problem that the Swedish film shares with it, being the difficulty of translating the fairly complicated plot into a film under three hours. In the novel, there are two plots, or issues, that are separate from each other in their subjects and goals, but intertwine together due to the involvement of individuals from both plots with one another. In Fincher’s film, the attempt to address both of these plots is a little confusing for the average viewer, as Fincher is forced to explain the complexities of how each plot is resolved in accordance with the other plot in a fairly fast paced, and slightly dizzying final twenty minutes of the film. In the end, one of these plots is given more importance, and time, than the other in Fincher’s film, despite the fact that the other plot is given just as much attention over the course of the entire film.

In conclusion, David Fincher’s US adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo lives up to every bit of the anticipation that has been attributed to it leading up to its release. Fincher’s film adaptation of the best selling novel of the same name is satisfying for fans of the book, and delivers a great thriller that will also satisfy viewers unfamiliar with the Millennium trilogy at all. Despite being encumbered by a story that can get confusing at times, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a great adaptation of one of the best-written murder mysteries of the twenty first century.


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