Cinema Review – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Here it comes, the latest Hollywood remake – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But how does this stand up against the swedish original? Teri checks it out
TITLE – THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO YEAR – 2011 DIRECTOR – DAVID FINCHER CAST – DANIEL CRAIG, ROONEY MARA, STELLAN SKARSGARD WRITERS – STEIG LARSSON, STEVEN ZAILLIAN
To say that Fincher’s adaptation of the first in the Millenium trilogy has been highly anticipated is an understatement. Feared, too – many of my friends who are huge fans of the Swedish original threw their hands up in despair when it was announced that Hollywood would be staking their claim on Lisbeth Salander, bisexual-hacker-biker-goth-research-genius extraordinaire. And why wouldn’t they? Before it was announced that David Fincher was set to direct, I was nibbling my nails down to bloody stumps and waking up in cold sweats under the impression that some idiot in tinseltown would think it’d be a great idea to hire someone like Michael Bay for the job. But no – it was Scott Rudin who pointed the finger, and in early 2010 it was announced that Fincher was our man. Halle-bloody-lujah.
If there’s one Western director who is truly capable for the job, it’s Fincher. A sweeping glance at his resume should tell you as much – Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac et al – the man knows his way around a camera, and more importantly, knows how exactly to film and direct a pitch-perfect crime thriller. GWTDT is no exception – the authenticity of the original is somewhat (and predictably) lost, but it doesn’t make this film a bad interpretation. Dare I say it, it even feels marginally tighter than Oplev’s.
The story tells of the meeting of two minds to solve the mysterious crime of a girl who has been missing for decades: Mikael Blomkvist (Craig), ruggedly handsome political publisher and Lisbeth Salander, blunt-tongued surveillance agent with top research skills and a guarded past. For those who haven’t read the books or seen the original Swedish adaptations, I will end the spoilers there; one of the great things about the plot is its absurdity and the complicated twists and turns as the story unfolds (rape is a central theme, and it really is not handled lightly or with Hollywood-tinted glasses); and Fincher guides us through these routes with frustrating (and admittedly slow-as-treacle, as you can imagine from the man who gave us Zodiac) grace.
The bleak, rugged landscape of Larsson’s novel is captured beautifully in this adaptation, from the snow covered peaks found on the island of the crime setting to the cold and impersonal office and apartment buildings of Stockholm. The look of the film is grey, white and black, with very few flashes of warm colour inbetween; every line is straight and every surface is immaculate, even inside Lisbeth’s cheap and rundown apartment which is awash with white, blank walls and very little furniture. The look, the feel of the film, along with the crisp industrial soundtrack provided by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, fits the atmosphere of the book perfectly; dark, psycho-sexual, Scandi-exotic swathed in noirish urban grit.
The film isn’t without flaws – as I mentioned earlier, the authenticity doesn’t quite hit the right mark (I blame the wandering accents – yes, the cast have adopted Swedish accents – Mara is the only one who seems to get it consistently right), and Fincher’s fetish for the build-up rather than the climax itself pulls it down somewhat, but none of the performances can be faulted. Craig is a beautiful, beautiful man who can act up a storm without even opening his mouth, and Mara fits the bill and is breathtaking as the on-the-surface kitten-weak Salander who has the brains and surprising amount of brawn to bring down almost anyone who crosses her path. The chemistry between the leads is undeniable, that’s for sure.
Billed as the feel-bad film of Christmas, GWTDT is chilling, soaked with detail and a project that both Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian have truly dedicated themselves to, neither robbing the franchise of its credibility or fluffing it up in any way. It is an adaptation for the fans, and I really hope that they will embrace it as much as I did.
[starreview tpl=16 size='30']
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO IS RELEASED NATIONALLY IN UK ON 26TH DECEMBER 2011
Teri is a former film student from Edinburgh and currently works in book publishing in London. She can be found on twitter mostly talking nonsense under the handle @msenidcoleslaw
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