David Fincher commented that just 40 pages into reading Steig Larsson's global hit novel that he could see exactly why it had been sent to him. The connections with the director's career are clearly evident; the serial killing and mismatched detectives of Se7en, the thorough procedural hunt of Zodiac, and the story even features a lot of investigative work done through computers (something that shouldn't be visually interesting) but Fincher elevates this element just as he did with The Social Network and creates something cinematic and exciting. Despite the Swedish film only being released back in 2009 with many in uproar that Hollywood dare to give it the remake treatment so soon, this is clearly a story that Fincher was meant to tell.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as most people know by now is the story of disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who is hired by ex-industrialist Henrik Vanger (of the Vanger corporation) to dig into his past to reveal which member of his family killed his niece during the 1960s. Blomkvist is eventually aided in his investigation by Lisbeth Salander - a goth computer hacker who carried out the background check on Blomkvist for Vanger. As they hone in on the killer their relationship becomes more personal and ambiguous.
The film always has been viewed as a murder mystery and of course it is, however the real core of the story is Lisbeth. One of the great literary creations of recent years she is simply fascinating. The films' success rides on Rooney Mara's portrayal of the broken and abused young girl; her performance shows Lisbeth scarred and animal like, almost ferrel. She has lived a life of oppression at the hands of the 'system' and of men, the original title of the novel was Men Who Hate Women and this theme of extreme misogyny is present throughout his Millennium Trilogy and in a couple of excruciatingly cruel scenes starts here. If cinemas warned audiences of the bloodshed during a scene in 127 Hours then there should be a warning issued for the sexual abuse portrayed in this. This is not for the casual viewer.
Daniel Craig is at his absolute best as Blomkvist and maintains that icy ephemeral quality that has always added something special when he's performing but as said before this is Mara's film and she dominates it entirely. For such a young actress she has taken on the most difficult role any actress could face this year and has ran with it, she has proven her worth now and will surely be in upmost demand after a career defining performance as this. One can not believe Rooney's transformation from Mark Zuckerberg's ex-girlfriend shown in The Social Network to the broken female avenger shown in this.
David Fincher brought some key collaborators along from his last film along for TGWTDT and perhaps this has helped secure its obvious quality. Director of photography Jeff Cronenweth who has now shot three of Fincher's projects and maintains the consistent visuals that has become accustomed to the director, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deliver another breathtaking atmospheric score that captures the essence of the story and Swedish setting. The score is industrial, imposing, cold, and perfectly fitting. One stand out point of the film is the opening title sequence that both rivals the Bond franchise and reminds us that Fincher had cut his teeth long before feature films in music videos, the sequence is stunning and a definite highlight if not at odds with the rest of the films' consistent tone.
All the elements of this adaptation work very well indeed - the performances by the rather large cast, the photography, the music. Everything comes together to create a biting thriller that fits perfectly and proudly in the career of a director known for his foray in the genre. During the 90s Fincher stated that he was interested in films that scarred; after the detached tragic love epic that was Benjamin Button and the genius courtroom antics of The Social Network it's great to see his most recent film and his return to the thriller cutting very deep indeed!
For Fans of: Se7en, Zodiac, Silence of the Lambs, Enja