in Review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

Even though it came out well over a month ago I felt Mildly Pleased should have some kind acknowledgment of the US adaptation of Stigg Larsson’s bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Already adapted for Swedish audiences along with the other two installments of Larsson’s “The Millennium Trilogy” this version was helmed by the one and only David Finche, who has certainly left the touch of a true auter. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a bleak and atmospheric thriller surrounding a thought provoking mystery that’s well complimented by a sharp screenplay and a stunning performance by Rooney Mara.

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist for Millennium magazine just coming off of a well publicized libel case lost against a well known businessman. Despite the controversy Mikael is offered to help retired industrialist CEO Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) with his memoirs, but more importantly to help him solve a 40 year family mystery. Decades ago Vanger’s beloved niece Harriet vanished and it is Henrik’s belief that she was murdered by someone within the family. Meanwhile we are introduced to talented hacker and freelance researcher Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who has recently been declared a ward of the state due to mental incompetency. After the passing of her legal guardian Lisbeth is put under the watch of lawyer Nils Bjurman, (Yorick van Wageningen) a closet sexual predator. Through a series of dark twists and turns these two characters path’s eventually cross and they decided to work together to unravel the dark secrets of the Vanger family.

There’s simply too much plot to cover in one review which would explain the film’s 158 minute run time. Having never read the book I can only assume this was done to cover as many details as possible and due to strength of the story and characters, the film is never boring. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo moves at a casual pace that gives the audience the chance to soak up all the details and let them stew around, as any good mystery should. Steve Zaillan who also co-wrote the screenplay to this year’s Moneyball has done an excellent job at taking such a dense amount of story and making it so accessible, and David Fincher has displayed it all in a style that I could only describe as truly “Fincher-esque.” What can you really say about him? He’s in a stylistic league of his own.

Fincher has really left his mark on this story but if I could only give one reason to see The Girl with Dragon Tattoo it would be to watch Rooney Mara. Lisbeth Salander is such a demanding character that it’s astonishing to watch an actress commit so much physically and mentally and still be so believable. Rooney Mara vanishes into the role and it’s hard to look away, hopefully the Oscars will put that into consideration. Daniel Craig plays Daniel Craig, it’s basically the same character he’s played in every movie he’s ever been in. He’s not bad, he’s fine, but he’s constantly overshadowed by the talent of Rooney Mara.

What’s on everyone’s mind now is whether the US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will become a franchise like it’s Swedish counterpart. I’m always interested in David Fincher taking on new projects, I have see all of his movies, but I wouldn’t mind a US version of The Girl Who Played with Fire and I would be even more excited if FIncher returned. Whatever happens I still enjoyed this film and will definitely put it into consideration for my “Best of 2011” list which is so close now that I can taste it.