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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Having only read about the Swedish film it’s hard to make any real comparisons, but David Fincher has adapted the late Stieg Larsson’s book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, beautifully.  The film translates the dark masterpiece of the Swedish journalist perfectly into a wonder and intriguing film that, right from the start, grabs viewers, with an abstract, and kickass, title sequence, and holds their attention until, near, the end of the incredibly long film

Going into the film without seeing so much as a trailer, I really had no idea what to expect and, if I’m honest, I didn’t think I was going to like it.  The main thing putting me off was the length of the film, which is just under three hours.  I thought I’d get bored long before the end, but with characters this interesting and complex, it was hardly an issue.  The shear psychological understanding of the characters is amazing.  Things like why they do what they do and how they react to each other, have been so clearly mapped out that it’s easy to believe the characters are real people.  The film does take these characters to some dark places, especially Lisbeth (the girl with the dragon tattoo), and it’s hard to watch at times, but still very nice to see such great acting.

The film follows two different characters, who eventually meet up, Lisbeth (played by Rooney Mara), an antisocial girl with a photographic memory and incredible computer hacking skills, and Mikael (Daniel Craig), an investigative reporter.  When Mikael is sued for libel after making accusations about a rich businessman, he quits his job in an attempt to protect the magazine he co-owns.  He is then recruited by an old man named Henrik (Christopher Plummer) to solve the 36 year old mystery of Henrik’s niece’s murder.  Mikael agrees, but is unaware that Lisbeth had already been hired by Henrik to do a background check on him.  When he finds out he asks to see her report, noticing there are things she could not have found out without hacking into his computer, he then hires her to assist him in solving the case.

There isn’t a single actor in the film that didn’t do a great job, even the Swedish accents seemed flawless and I was legitimately surprised when I found out which ones were real and which were not.  However, I couldn’t help thinking, at least at the start, how pointless the accents were.  Why make all of the characters speak in English with Swedish accents?  If you want them Swedish get them speaking Swedish.  I’m not saying that Craig and Mara should have been forced to learn another language for the film, but giving them the accents made it seem like it was just an adaption for the people that were too lazy to read the subtitles on the Swedish version.  Though, I’m sure there are some stylistic differences too, that’s just what crossed my mind while watching the film.

I’ve already mentioned how great the acting was, but I feel more attention has to be given to Rooney Mara, who essentially transformed herself for this role.  She was brilliant, the best part of the film.  Her character is probably the most complicated of the lot, and that’s saying something.  It’s not hard to sympathise with her as she goes through her dark journey and the sense of isolation is just overpowering at times.  She has been hurt by nearly everyone she’s ever known so it’s hard for her to trust anyone.  Mara is able to bring so many levels into every scene, watching her body language you can see Lisbeth’s fear of real intimacy and getting emotionally involved with anybody.  There is desperation in her actions and Mara has the ability to convey this in a subtle way.

Clearly aimed at a more mature audience, some scenes were really hard to watch.  One scene in particular were the viewer must watch a rape, was genuinely disturbing.  It was necessary to the understanding of the character, but was still horrible to see.  The villain of the movie is so routed in psychology that it was a bit like watching a combination of the shows Dexter and Criminal Minds.  It’s rare to see a film were the bad guy has a motive that is just so purely sick and realistic, not at all like the ones given by the killers in franchises such as Scream and Urban Legends.

Though the end was somewhat unsatisfying, this film is still, to my surprise, a brilliant, intriguing and intelligent piece of work.  Despite having never read the book, I didn’t have trouble keeping track of the many suspects and was so engrossed in the story it almost didn’t matter.  At times it felt as though they could have gotten three films out of this one book, but that’s more to do with the level of detail than anything else.  This movie was so well done that I feel it’s only a matter of time before they adapt the sequel as well.  It is a true shame that the author, Stieg Larsson, died before the book was even released.

What do you think?  Have you read the book?  Did you see the Swedish version?  Are you a fan of David Fincher?  Let me know by voting and leaving a comment below, also don’t forget to subscribe and click the like button.  If you want to keep up to date with future posts and projects follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/AdamODwyer1.

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One response

  1. Amy

    This movie was amazing. The plot was pretty intense but it kept you on the edge of your seat. Although it was just under 3 hours long it didn’t feel like that there were parts were I truly felt bored. The acting was great. I think Rooney Mara made this movie she really went for it and I couldn’t imagine anybody else being the girl with the dragon tattoo 🙂

    December 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

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