Film Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This new American take on the best-selling book of the same name, sees iconic director David Fincher, delve into a cracking storyline, filling it with great acting performances and a certain edginess to it that fits perfectly. Fincher ensures that ‘Girl‘ earns its 18 certificate, with a series of graphic shots, and a very dark and hard-to-watch rape scene involving main character Lisbeth Salander. Obviously comparisons are going to be made between Fincher’s US version, and the original Swedish version that swept the globe back in 2009. However, I have yet to see the true original, so will refrain from doing so until I have!  After watching Fincher’s ‘Girl’, I’m excited to see the original to see how they compare, and will then read the book on which both are based.

 Anyway, going into this 2 hour and 40 minute film, I was sceptical about the story, after a variety of reviews and a sub-standard box-office in its native America. I’d heard the ‘killer’ of a murder over 4o years in the past, was ‘easy to guess’ and ‘not surprising’. This was false. This story was excellent and it’s easy to see how and why millions around the world have been captivated by the movies and books.

 With David Fincher, comes other components from previous film ‘The Social Network’, with actress Rooney Mara moving up from bit part role, to leading lady, and also the soundtrack is again provided by ‘Nine Inch Nails‘ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The duo’s soundtrack again is vitally different from any other motion picture’s, and sets the cold, hard vibe that the rest of the film follows all the way.

Mara is outstanding as Lisbeth and has fully earnt her Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, infact, she may be the underdog for the Oscar, but if it isn’t going to be Meryl Streep, then surely Mara is next on the list. The transformation that she went through for the film, was certainly worth it, and you really believe in her as a character. She offers the often hint of dark humour, a strange personality and is very mysterious, as often there are references to her past that sound quite grim.

 Daniel Craig is given almost as much screen time, as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Craig is much better than I’d anticipated he would be, and offers much more than just his usual glare, as seen in ‘Bond’ and the recent (and awful) ‘Cowboys and Aliens’. He again is presented as likeable, a difficult task concerning the public’s current opinion of journalists. I also enjoyed how both Salander and Blomkvist were followed for the first hour of the film, before their various storylines eventually intertwined and they began to work together. Craig and Mara’s chemistry is also better than I expected, and the two really become a strong team by the end of the film. This was crucial if the American ‘Girl’s’ are to last the entire trilogy like the original Swedish films.

The supporting cast of the strange Vagner family, offer a wide variety of personalities and characters that tend to deceive. This, I felt was one of the films few negatives, as there were a lot of family members that I got a little bit confused about who was who. A second watch would correct this, though. It’s not at all obvious who is the ‘killer’ from the family, and the deducing of the mystery becomes a little bit tedious at times, but things are kept ticking along well by the acting talents.

When the mystery unravels, it reaches a satisfying, if not random, ending, but doesn’t end there! The various plot points set up at the start of the film, with Blomkvist’s case and name attempted to be cleared, with the help of his new friend Salander. I liked this extra little 20 minute chunk, that tied everything up, so that if this is indeed the first and last American installment, it ends well.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’, is a great, dark film, that, again, will not be for every film-goer, and is, at times a hard watch, but has a strong storyline and one of modern day cinemas most iconic characters in Lisbeth Salander.


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