The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Based on the best selling novels by Stieg Larsson, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO is clearly and rightfully an intriguing story to audiences. The Swedish version directed by Niels Arden Oplev in 2009 was a very good film but David Fincher has turned around and made it great.
After being wrongfully convicted in a libel case for falsifying a story about the corruption of a billionaire industrialist, Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by a wealthy business owner, Henrick Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who claims he can help prove his innocence. In return, Mikael must find out the mystery behind Henrick’s missing niece from forty years ago. He loved his niece very much and is convinced someone from his rich and secretive family is involved. Henrick believes a fresh look from an investigative reporter might be able to find something that he and the police could not.
After covering the cast of suspects, including two members of the Nazi party, who mostly live within a half mile radius of each other on a beautiful island in the fictional city of Hedeby, Sweden, it is clear that the Vanger family are a difficult bunch and contain a lot of hate for one another. In order to discover the mystery without being killed, Mikael recruits the help of the researcher and computer hacker that did his background check for Mr. Vanger.
This brings us to one of the greatest characters ever written not only for a woman but also for anyone. Lizbeth Salender (Rooney Mara) is the most unlikely of heroes. Her anorexic body is full of piercings and tattoos while her personality is reclusive and angry. Her difficult life from when she was younger to her current state has no doubt been the cause and motivation for her intelligence and toughness. The dark world she knows is void of love and includes physical abuse, drugs and rape. She is a victim that has turned the tables around and is on a mission to hunt down and destroy all predators.
Shot in Stockholm, Sweden, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. The clean white snow masks the danger and tragedy that surrounds our heroes, however the unrelenting cold is felt through the screen that matches the hopelessness surrounding the case. The nature of the film feels almost like a ghost story. Even while looking at the flashbacks or the images of the missing girl or correlating mutilated murders, they hauntingly bring the girl back to life as though she is aware of the current day trying to reach beyond the grave.
The musical score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who last won an Oscar for Fincher’s THE SOCIAL NETWORK gives the perfect tone and pitch. I can’t say enough about how involved and excited I was to see what was to follow after already a minute into the credits. More films should take note on how impactful opening credits can set the mood. The abstract image of melted black liquid splitting into two people is both dark and beautiful as the film itself. Backing the images up is the powerful Trent Reznor & Karen O “Immigrant Song (Remix)” that you may have recognized from the film’s trailer.
Not since SILENCE OF THE LAMBS has such a dark and twisted film deserved such praise. Taking time to build the characters and leading the audience on a journey together, the story is both unique and classic. It’s not only suspenseful and thrilling but it is also simultaneously horrifically disturbing and sexy. I’ve said on many occasions that I’m not a fan of remaking films unless you are making it different and better. While Fincher did managed to make the film better it was still a little too similar. One major difference is the ending that while interesting seemed to continue when it felt like it was time to end. However, if you are lucky enough for this to be your first introduction to the dark, shocking and fascinating story, I think the film will knock your socks off.