Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
“Everybody has secrets. It is just a matter of time to find out what they are.”
‘The Millennium Trilogy’, an award-winning book series by Stieg Larsson which was released posthumously had garnered a cult status among readers. The popularity of the books spanned three Swedish television films based on the books starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist which were released in 2009. In 2011, Sony Pictures purchased the rights to the novels to release an ‘American’ adaptation unrelated to the Swedish counterpart. David Fincher was hired to direct and Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were cast as lead.
‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ follows Swedish journalist Mikeal Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-founder and co-owner of Millennium magazine who is devoted to exposing the corruptions and malfeasance of business and political personalities. After losing a libel case against a corrupt businessperson, he is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), the retired head of Vanger Industries to investigate the disappearance and assumed murder of Harriet Vanger, Henrik’s grandniece, 40 years ago. Blomkvist hires an antisocial vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to help him with the investigation. Lisbeth has problems of her own, and as secrets begin to unravel during the investigation, Blomkvist and Lisbeth both concur that nobody can be trusted.
David Fincher’s films are cerebrally beguiling experiences more often than not. He’s a director who is a complete master of subtlety in cinema. Every shot is always meticulously planned and executed with a unique mastery. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is more than just another great film from one of modern cinema’s most enigmatic directors. It is a further development in the modern psychological thriller which has not been attempted before. The plot is somewhat complex enough to merit multiple viewings, but the overall brilliance of the film is enough to bring more cinema enthusiasts around for a second or third viewing on its own. Having read the books and as a fan, I absolutely doted on how the psychological aspects of both the book and the screenplay (a brilliant work by Steven Zaillian) adds to the film’s edge. Director Fincher is extremely conscious of the details he needed to exhibit to keep each isolated moment at a highly concentrated level. The movie is an elegant balance between light and dark; it benefits from Fincher’s ascetic treatment and has the power to silence any naysayers. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara have an intense and volatile chemistry throughout the film, bringing a somewhat visceral dimension to their characters Mikeal Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. They are elegantly supported by a strong star cast of Christopher Plummer. Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Steven Berkoff, Joely Richardson, Josefin Asplund, Donald Sumpter, Julian Sands, Goran Visnjic, Tony Way, Geraldine James, Leo Bill and Elodie Yung. One must also applaud creative director Tim Miller’s (who later directed the 2016 superhero film ‘Deadpool’) abstract narrative work and conceptualization of the title sequence, which reflected pivotal and distinctive personalities of the lead characters, especially that of Rooney Mara’s. Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nails member Trent Reznor, who previously collaborated with Fincher in ‘The Social Network’ (2010) and won an Academy Award, composed music for the film and its title sequence (the latter’s music is a reworked version of one of Led Zeppelin’s songs) and gave the film a cyberpunk feel. Jeff Cronenweth’s camera captured the intimacy of the sequences, adding an emotional appeal to the film. All in all, this is a dark movie with no restraint placed upon the showings of manipulation, mystery, murder and several different types of abuse which takes place onscreen. It is a spellbinding film from beginning to end, with raw, perilous and jaw-dropping moments that captures some of the worst phases of humanity along with some genuine performances and unpredictable plotlines. Improving upon the original 2009 Swedish version, thanks to the magic of Fincher, this is a remake that has a right to exist.
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