[Review] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A TALE OF TWO GIRLS

I have been wanting to watch this movie for over a month now and I finally got around to it.  I didn’t read the book because I usually like to read the book after I’ve seen the movie, therefore giving me a chance to approach the movie with a fresh perspective and not be bogged down in what the story was supposed to be as opposed to what Hollywood did with it.  However, I do have some expectations as it is a David Fincher helmed film.

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a disgraced journalist after losing in a libel case against crooked businessman, Hans-Erik Wennerström.  Meanwhile a researcher for a security company, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), does a background check on Blomkvist for Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). Despite his scandal, she passes him off as “clean”.  So Vanger hires Blomkvist to help write his biography and during that process find out what happened to his niece, Harriet Vanger.

Out on a small island in a small remote town in Sweden, Blomkvist starts to look into the Vanger family tree and what happened 40 years ago on the day that Harriet disappeared.

Blomkvist then enlists Salander’s help in the investigation after learning what a thorough job she did when she researched him.  Throughout the search, the two become close.

The movie feels like it’s split into two parts.  One part is finding out what happened to Harriet and the other part is following Salander and what happens to her.  The themes overlap with each other but the stories feel distinctly separate.

The cinematography is classic David Fincher, however the camera work is not really too unique in terms of how it reveals the story.  In some ways, I miss the David Fincher of Se7en, Fight Club and Panic Room.  Rather here, he focuses on the actors’ performances.

Rooney Mara’s the girl who got the coveted role that all of Hollywood was vying for.  As Dragan Armansky (Goran Visnjic) puts it, ‘She’s had a very hard life.’  Lisbeth’s guardianship belongs to the state as a result of an incident that happened when she was young which declared that she was mentally incompetent.  When her guardian suffers a stroke, her new guardian abuses and rapes her.  But she fights back.  With all that has happened to Lisbeth, I’m surprised that she’s not more of a schizophrenic or more antisocial but you see that she’s got a strong survival instinct.  However in order to do that, sometimes you’ve got to be in touch with your demons.  Mara plays these elements to Lisbeth very well.

Despite the seedy world Blomkvist investigates, it’s interesting that Craig seems to play him as being a bit naïve, to a certain extent.  Naïve to how the world operates or he wants to remain ignorant of it.  Like when he finds out that Lisbeth has decrypted the notes on his computer or that she returns an enormous amount of money she borrowed from Blomkvist quicker than expected.  Craig is so subtle in how he plays these scenes.

The film is a good ride.  After all, it seems they had good material to work with.  Despite the conclusion being a bit predictable, you still have a tremendous growth of character in Lisbeth.  So much so that it makes me look forward to the next movie.

Rating

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