The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Well, I've been wanting to see this movie since the trailer hit, and I wasn't disappointed. I thought it was excellent. But it's a movie I find hard to recommend to most people. Why? Roger Ebert has a quote: "No good movie is for everybody, only bad movies are for everybody" and that sums this up. It's a dark, and bleak film. Most audiences aren't into dark and bleak. And when I say dark and bleak, I mean that this makes "The Dark Knight" look like a Disney movie in comparison. This is easily the feel bad movie of the year, and it was excellent.

Nine times out of ten, I hate remakes. This is one of those one in tens. Now, I haven't seen the original Swedish movie, and I haven't read the book. My friend who accompanied me had seen the Swedish, and didn't like it. But he enjoyed this. I was willing to give this one a shot because David Fincher was the director, and that man is easily one of Hollywood's most brilliant talents. I like that he brought back Trent Reznor to do the music also.

Daniel Craig stars as Mikhael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist hired by an elderly man played by Christopher Plummer to solve a forty year old murder. I've been a fan of Daniel Craig since long before he became James Bond, and I loved him in this movie. He is a flawed protagonist. Divorced for carrying on an affair with his co-editor, which continues even until the end of the movie, despite her being married herself.

Rooney Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, a researcher for Milton Security and competent hacker, and a ward of the state. Lisbeth is a ward of the state since she has been declared mentally incompetent, and when her legal guardian suffers a stroke, she is appointed a new one who seizes control of her finances and only cuts her checks to live after he abuses her. First in a scene where he forces her to perform oral sex on him, and then later on handcuffing her to the bed and anally raping her. This, of course, eventually culminates in the most cathartic scene of the film.

Like I said, this is not a feel good movie. Sexual abuse, rape, murder. My fourteen year old cousin wanted to see this, and while I've been showing her "South Park" since she was three, I am glad I did not bring her to this one.

Our two protagonists' stories don't intersect until well into the movie, and I remember wondering when it was all going to line up. But it does, and while not conventional, it allows us to get to know these two people before fate thrusts them together.

Everything about the movie was excellent. The pacing, the cinematography, the acting, the music. I have no negatives about this one. It just might be the best movie I've seen of 2011. But, again, it's hard for me to recommend as it's not for the faint of heart. It's dark, it's disturbing. The heavy material is given the attention and respect it deserves, and presented in a rather frightening manner. It's a thriller directed by David Fincher, if you know exactly what that means going in, you will be fine.

I expect this to get a Best Picture nod in the coming months. But I do not expect it to win. This movie goes places that Best Picture winners rarely go. But my personal grade is an A+


  1. I watched the movie last week and I just watched the Swedish version today. I liked them both, but the American version really played up the horror aspects. Ebert said in his original of the Swedish one, that he though the film would tone down the sexual violence. On the contrary, it racheted it up.

    The memorable scenes in both films were better done in the Fincher version. They were also much longer and more graphic. At times, I felt uneasy and scared (in a good way) while watching Fincher's version. The Swedish version is no scarier than an episode of "Criminal Minds."

    The Swedish version is better paced and makes the story less complicated. I heard that was a criticism of those who read the book saying that the mystery had been simplified from the original story.

    I don't really think along the lines of which film was better. The Swedes did their version. We did ours. Noomi Rapace's Lisabeth seemed to be a more caring person and more engaged with other people than Rooney Mara's. Not a criticism of the acting, just observing how they interpreted the character.

    One scene at the end of the Swedish version made me wonder if Elin Nordegren Woods had seen it or read the book. A character is repeatedly struck with a golf club by a woman and when he gets into his vehicle, she strikes the windows with the golf club and chases after him yelling obscenities.

  2. I felt that Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth was more like a larger than life superhero, wile Rooney Mara's seemed more like a human being.

    Overall, while I am against American remakes nine times out of ten, this is the superior movie.