Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Review

Director David Fincher follows up his fine movie The Social Network (2010) with a film adaptation of Stieg Larson's novel, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Fincher brings the same visual style he used in The Social Network. It features a lot of subdued light, a kind of movie drained of color. Perhaps, that's perfect since the movie takes place in Sweden during the winter. Regardless, Tattoo reflects the moral ambiguity of its main character, Lisbeth.

The film starts out with Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) losing a libel case. Meanwhile Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a gifted computer hacker has done an investigative report on Blomkvist for Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), a wealthy businessman. Vanger wants to hire Blomkvist to investigate the murder of his niece, Harriet which happened forty years earlier. Vanger not only promises to pay money to Blomkvist but also will help clear his name. As Blomkvist starts to unravel part of the mystery surrounding the Vanger family, he hires Salander to assist him with the investigation.

Steven Zaillian 's adapted screenplay captures Lisbeth's character and her motivations as to who she is. Where he stumbles and it's probably the source material is the complex number of clues and plot points in the movie. You're going to have to pay a lot of attention to keep up with Lisbeth and Mikael. Still, coupled with Fincher's moody direction the film keeps your interest.

It's the performances that make this film worthy. Daniel Craig is excellent as a journalist who's beaten down but seeks the truth. Christopher Plummer makes his character as one who is unafraid of exposing the skeletons in his family's history. But this film belongs to Rooney Mara. Her Lisbeth is woman who has been emotionally scarred and will not give freely love any mate. Mara lets her face do all the talking. Most of the time she is feminist rage without words. One can read her emotions by looking at her face. Mara does a number of nude scenes but it's not gratuitous. The body piercings, tattoos and punk hair style are talismans for her character. It's a courageous performance and one that deserves a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo strikes me as a Swedish form of film noir. The film is worth seeing for the performance of Rooney Mara. The grade is B +.

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