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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo– Movie Review

Submitted by on December 23, 2011 – 2:24 pmOne Comment

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which opened in wide release this week, had an intimidating family history to live up to. Like any literary adaptation, it had to be ready to face the inevitable criticism that “it wasn’t as good as the book,” not to mention a massive international best seller. What’s more, it was competing with a well-received film from the series’ native Sweden, a movie that even found release and positive reception here in the States. But this latest version firmly stakes out it’s own territory: this is no simple adaptation, it is a David Fincher film– a writhing, gothic, brutal, trippy journey into a world of depravity.

The film tells the first story in the Millennium trilogy, following punkish genius hacker Lisbeth Salander (a chillingly stoic Rooney Mara) and muckraking journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig, giving some realistic vulnerability to the do-gooder) as they investigate a 50-year-old murder in a deeply disturbed, wealthy family. At the same time, each struggles personally against criminally corrupt elements of Swedish society.

Fincher’s camera, guided by Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth, is an unseen character in the film, shaking, spinning, and zooming, turning the already disturbing events into a grotesque interactive experience. The colors range from stark, dull blacks and grays of winter in Northern Sweden, to eerie washed-out pastels of flashbacks that are clearly not steeped in nostalgia.

This film clearly stands on it’s own, but as an added benefit, it distinguishes itself as an independent work of art from the books and earlier film. Simply put, the Swedish version was less intrusive, a more fly-on-the-wall look at a crime investigation. It was more a whodunit murder story, while Fincher’s is more the tale of Mikael and Lisbeth. While I thought this was still amazingly tense, several of my friends thought the American version could have had more plot-driven suspense.

Most boldly, Fincher paces his movie essentially backwards. It drives and throbs relentlessly in the beginning, powered by Oscar-winner Trent Reznor‘s (yep, of Nine Inch Nails) spot-on industrial score. But by the end, it has softened, even the colors have brightened, as Lisbeth and Mikael begin looking to the future. There is less emotional sobbing than in the Swedish film, but somehow, that makes the two even more human and heartbreaking as they emerge from a perverse nightmare.

Did you see the movie? What do you think?

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