The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, is an experience one must fulfill. Based off the novel written by Stieg Larsson, it is encircled by two characters, Mikael Blomkvist, a shamed economics journalist who was accused of libel against Erik-Hans Wennerstrom, where he accuses the later of corruption and fraud. As he takes a leave of absence from his magazine, Millennium, he is hired by Henrik Vanger, the owner and head of the Vanger Corporation, to investigate the murder of his niece, Harriet Vanger. For 40 years, no one could figure out the mystery to her disappearance, though officially in Hedestad, Sweden to write Vanger’s biography, Blomkvist is trying to uncover who in the Vanger family killed Harriet. As the data and information increases, Blomkvist is referred the other major character, Lisbeth Salander, who he hires as a research assistant. She’s smart, thorough but also has a strong persona to her character. But besides all of this, the plot is surrounded by the sex crimes that has been invested in Sweden. Larsson himself witnessed a woman getting raped in his country, and his guilt that lived inside him for not doing anything pushed him to write a novel about the dark topic. With this though, Larsson created, in my opinon, one of the greatest characters in modern literature.
A lot has been made about the fact that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo comes one year after the Swedish film was released. Why make a remake after only a year? Well when you got Fincher and Steve Zaillian (writer of Moneyball, Gangs of New York, Schindler’s List to name a few), yeah, you make the remake. And the results are invigorating.
There comes a time in film, though very rare, where the film is better than the original work. There aren‘t that many movies that are better than the book (The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, maybe all the Dennis Lehany novels) and we are witnessing the next example. Though I am a fan of the novel, I do not ignore the many flaws and issues from its inconsistency in focus on the central plot, the problematic pace and continuity within the novel and just Larsson’s overall writing, there are problems. And overall, I had large concerns over how this story would translate into film. Not seeing the Swedish version, I couldn’t grasp how Fincher would be able to keep the story in tact and it’s major components in unison while respecting the audience’s integrity and patience. But the film is better than the book. It improves upon the novel in many ways, and overall, it is a much better experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, the book is great, but the film is a masterpiece.
Fincher is a visionary. An artist at heart. And how he works with the camera and delivering images is just captivating, and his work in the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo mirrors his earlier films like Se7en and Zodiac. I mean, the opening title sequence alone is worth the ticket price. But what some people don’t realize about Fincher is his mastery in pace. He moves the film with flawlessness and from the dialogue to the progression of the story, it gracefully moves along without a hitch. This was so in the Social Network and also here. The movie moves so quickly. It’s speed is relentless, and for some, this may be a problem considering this is a confusing story with a lot of characters, information and elements to all process, and for those who have not read the book, this can get very confusing and frustrating. But I loved that aspect of the film. I hate it when directors assume that the audience is full of incompetent idiots who have absolutely no ability to use its own mind during a movie, and it really does ruin the experience at times. Fincher does not do so. He has no regard for those who need training wheels, and unless you give the film your complete undivided attention, you’re going to be left behind, and I love that about Fincher. And even though the film clocks in at about 2 hours and 40 minutes, it is a fast 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Like the novel, the film covers some pretty dark material including rape and some sexual immoralities. The overall thematic elements of the film is disturbing, and some of these images are really tough to witness. But Fincher does not shy away from it. He uses it the catapult his film into a grander tribute to the novel by focusing on it more. His style is unmatched, and in some of these scenes, he really translates the material into a successful darkening hole. He knows how to deliver important scenes. In a movie, there are a few sceenes that a director will say, “this needs to be remembered”. I think Fincher does this better than any director working today. When something needs to be bold and emphasized, he goes for it all, and he pushes the boundaries.
But all set aside, this film runs on Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth. I mean, wow. Who knew the girl who played Erica Albricht in The Social Network could pull out such profound work. Salander is not an easy character. From her dark past to her subtle but large emotional mannerisms, Mara nails this role down. This is the most important element of the film: making sure whoever plays Salander does it justice. And Mara does this in an unbelievable way. Everything from her simple facial expressions to the way she works her magical fingers on the computer, it is exactly how Salander would in the book. And this is no easy character to play. Salander her such a mysterious but projective personality, and her confidence is just as strong as her insecurities, and to be able to translate that into the screen is a remarkable achievement. This movie runs with Salander, and though Mara turns in an Oscar worthy performance, credit must be also given to Fincher who pulls out these amazing performances from his actors.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is something to be seen. This film is not for everyone. It’s violent, very disturbing and the way the movie unfolds won’t appeal to all audiences, but it is one of the most enthralling experiences you will see in 2011. And for me, it is definitely one of the best films of 2011.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is worth: (A Full Clock!)
Man, I’m being too nice with my reviews. Need to be douchier. Well, Sherlock Holmes will come in handy.