Sunday, 1 January 2012

REVIEW: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Fincher puts his own spin on the popular novel not that long after the Swedish film was released. Was it worth doing? How much different is it?

I have to confess I haven't read the books. Instead, I watched all the Swedish films back to back and have to say I enjoyed the first one, but was disappointed with the latter two. The main reason I liked Dragon Tattoo was because of the story, something lacking in Fire and Hornet. Fincher has made a good choice in wishing to direct this first one, but being wary to sign on to direct the next two, for good reason.

In case you don't know, the film is about a journalist asked to solve a case of a girl that has been missing for decades, meanwhile a young researcher is having her own troubles until she is brought in to help the journalist. There's a lot more to it, but that's it in a nutshell.

People have said they can't see anyone playing Lisbeth since Noomi Rapace played her (who is now in Sherlock Holmes 2 and the much anticipated Prometheus), but I have to say I enjoyed Rooney Mara's performance a whole lot more. Rapace was cold, isolated, with only mere moments of any kind of humanity. Though this makes her seem multidimensional as a character on paper, as a performance it lacks a certain quality which Mara has been able to invoke. She is strong, yet innocent, and where people could believe Rapace was a strong yet vulnerable woman, Mara takes it to another level where you don't even need to believe it, she just is.

She also looks a lot better, it's not strange to think that Rooney is attractive and yet slightly boyish and Fincher has brought out something that is memorable, to the point where an Academy Award nomination wouldn't be out of the question. That's not to take anything away from Craig, who is a damn sight better than his Swedish equivalent and makes the role his own. The other periphery actors also do an amazing job, Stellan Skarsgard (one of my favourite actors) making a noteworthy performance. But it is Rooney who steals the show.

No-one could also fault Trent Reznor's score which adds a subtle yet sinister depth to each scene and for what has to be arguably Fincher's most commercial piece of work, he still manages to toe the line of popular acceptability and integrity that comes with experience. He hasn't done anything crazy, in fact it feels sometimes the story is strong enough for him to step back and let it unfold, yet it is his subtle signatures with lighting, framing, colour and his incredible storytelling ability that makes sure this is one for everyone. Even the amazing title sequence which made my jaw drop was a bit strange, almost like a Bond opening, but still showed that Fincher isn't afraid to do things a little different.

The only problems were that sometimes it felt a little drawn out and there's still points, much like the Swedish one, where I'm left scratching my head but too engrossed in what's happening to care. Also, same with Swedish one, I also felt that Lisbeth's story that continues over the top of the main narrative seems at times surreal in that it might be establishing her character, but deviates from the main plot, no matter how relevant it might be in the future plotlines.

It's one of the few times that a Hollywood remake of a foreign film pays off and it's done with great style. It's a good story that will keep you hooked and Mara is just mesmerising in what I think is the ultimate take on Lisbeth Salander, by far the most interesting character of the lot. Definitely worth a look-see.

Rating: 8/10

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