¨You will be investigating thieves, misers, bullies. The most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet - my family.¨
The American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has finally arrived and it was as good as I expected it to be considering David Fincher was at the helm of the project. Fincher has made some excellent movies and this one will rank among my favorites along with Seven, Zodiac, The Social Network and Fight Club. I really wasn’t a big fan of having this movie remade since I considered the Swedish version was great, but when I heard Fincher was going to direct it, I didn’t doubt going to see it. I was hooked from the beginning although I expected this movie was probably not going to be as dark as the original. I was surprised this Hollywood production actually went to those dark places the original one did and that the Lisbeth Salander character was played so well by Rooney Mara. The best thing about the Swedish version was Noomi Rapace`s performance as the girl with the dragon tattoo, but in this film Rooney Mara really performs at the same level and reaches that same intensity bringing to life once again one of the most memorable female roles I`ve seen. The movie is not easy to watch, it has some dark and raw scenes, but the story is so well written and Fincher`s direction is just brilliant that it makes the film worth seeing all over again despite haven seen the original films or read the Millennium novels by Larsson. Despite knowing what was going to happen I really enjoyed the performances, the scenery, and the sound editing of this film. It might not be better than the Swedish film, but it does live up to it and perhaps now a broader American audience will actually become familiar with this bestselling novel. I still recommend the three original Swedish versions as well.
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist who works for Millennium magazine in Sweden and has recently been sued by a business tycoon named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom (Ulf Friberg) for libel against him. The truth is that Blomkvist has been framed and the proof he had against Wennerstrom was false so he loses a lot of money in the lawsuit. It`s during this time that he receives a job proposition from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), a former CEO of the Vanger group, who lives in an isolated island along with the rest of the members of the wealthy family. Henrik has hired Mikael because he wants him to investigate what happened to his disappeared niece, Harriet, who he believes has been murdered by someone in his family forty years ago, although police officers haven`t been able to find any clues over the years. The reason Henrik hasn`t given up looking for the killer is that every year on his birthday he receives a portrait with a flower as a gift from different parts of the world that he presumes is from the killer. He says that the killer has to be someone from the family because there was an accident on the bridge the day Harriet disappeared and no one could get in or out of the island on that day so it couldn`t be an outsider. Henrik`s brothers were all Nazi sympathizers during the War and he suspects any of them could be the killer. Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is a computer hacker who is pretty good at what she does, but is a very troublesome teenager who has very poor social skills. She dresses like a punk, has several piercings, and a dragon tattoo on her back. She was hired by Henrik to follow Mikael during the trial and make sure he was clean. When Mikael asks for an investigator to help him solve the mystery, they recommend her to him and they begin working together forming an unlikely alliance. They soon discover however that digging up the past could bring them trouble.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has several good things going for it beginning with the excellent story written by Larson. It has a lot of suspense and thrills, it works better than most mystery films. Zaillian really does a great job with the adaptation of the novel. The second thing it has going for it are excellent characters and good actors playing them. Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard are all excellent in this film and they have rich and memorable characters to interpret. Lisbeth Salander has to be one of the best female characters I`ve seen in an action film in a long time. Her side story is a nice compliment to the murder investigation, and in the next two sequels the film shifts its focus mainly back to her. I still think this first novel is better than the next two so I don`t expect the next movies to be as good as this one (at least that’s how they played out in the Swedish films). The cinematography in this film is also great, setting the dark tone of the film. The film has recently been nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Cinematography and a Best Actress nod for Rooney Mara. I think it got snubbed for a Best Picture nomination (it was better than some of the movies nominated). This isn’t a movie for everyone: it is dark, it has some strong scenes (a difficult to watch rape scene), but it is a well made thriller and among the best films of the year.