Movie Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
By Matthew Huntley
January 4, 2012
During his investigation, Blomkvist requests Lisbeth be his assistant and they develop an odd and unexpected relationship, which buoys the film so it’s not entirely plot-driven. Craig and Mara are both strong in their own right and are well-matched when the story finally brings their characters together. Because Mara fills a role that’s so much more distinct, she is likely to garner more praise for her performance, and while she’s all deserving, it’s Craig’s Blomkvist, humble and mild-mannered, that holds us in. We sympathize with him, not only because of his recent law troubles, but because he seems faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. Here, Craig shows he’s capable of being more than just a hard-knuckled James Bond; he’s convincing and compassionate.
Credit must also be given to Fincher, screenwriter Steve Zaillian and editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for relaying the plot in a way we’re able to follow clearly, all while observing the behavior of the characters as they decipher it. We watch and listen intently and their involvement makes us care about the outcome.
As is typical of any Fincher film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes with a high standard of production values. Jeremy Cronenweth’s blue-tinted photography creates a cold and bleak world that makes its inhabitants and conditions seem repulsive and grotesque, yet from a cinematic and narrative point of view, they’re strangely inviting and we can’t help but be lured in by them. We take on the point of view of the characters, who are placed in a state of isolation and helplessness, resorting to pure survival instincts. There are also some terrific shots in the film, including one where the camera is positioned on top of Lisbeth’s back as she’s driving through a tunnel on her motorcycle. It stands out among many where the filmmakers employ the camera to give the movie a robust, pulsating energy.
Like the original, this is not any easy film to sit through. It’s extremely violent and disturbing in parts and certain characters display the darkest sides of human nature, which are sure to make some viewers cringe. But, and this is important, it’s all done for the sake of developing the characters and telling a complex story. We’re enthralled from the very first scene up through the closing shot, which creates a moment of near-perfect reflection. While I haven’t read Larsson’s novel, Fincher and company seem to have kept all the details intact, and although this may not be a completely essential adaptation next to the original, it has just as many virtues.