Review: The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
I always knew about the popular book series and foreign films of the same name but never actually took the time to read them or watch the films. However, when I heard David Fincher was attached to direct the re-imagination for American audiences, my interest was peaked. Fincher's ability as a director to tell a story and his artistic take on everything has always managed to captivate me, and he did just that with this film as well. This film however may also have some of the most graphic scenes out of all of his films, which could certainly turn people off from the film quickly. The script is penned beautifully by Steve Zaillian who also penned the script for Fincher's The Social Network. This film falls more in line with Fincher's Seven and Zodiac. It has the same dark tone as those thriller films, and even a similar serial killer but the long running time can be hard to swallow.
The plot is a very intricate one and at first can be hard to follow due to how fast it moves. It follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as we see him in the midst of trouble that has been been brought against him by a corrupt businessman Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Mikael and the magazine that he works now owe Wennerstrom a substantial amount of money. In the midst of this we are then shown the interestingly damaged Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) has compiled an extensive background check on Blomkvist for Henrik Vanger. Henrik is the retired CEO of Vanger Industries and is looking into Blomkvist to possibly work a job for him. Lisbeth explains that she believes Blomkvist to be as she says "clean." Meaning that some of the defaming claims that he is receiving thanks to Wennerstrom are not entirely true.
Mikael is then contacted by Vanger's lawyer who summons him to Vanger's remote island to meet Henrik. Henrik offers Mikael a job, one that entitles Mikael to look into a missing person's case that is forty years old and has haunted Henrik for that long. The missing person is Harriet Vanger, Henrik's niece, and he believes that someone in the family murdered her forty years ago. He is haunted by the killer sending him pressed flowers, the same way Harriet used to on every one of his birthdays which leads him to believe they are from his killer. Mikael feels that it is an interesting case, but is still reluctant to take the job even despite the large amount of money Henrik is willing to offer. It is then that Henrik offers Mikael the very thing that will really interest him, which is damning information on Wennerstrom as he originally got his start at Vanger Industries. This immediately peaks Mikael's interest as the information Henrik holds could potential wipe his slate clean. The film also really takes off at this point as Mikael is shown to be a really talented investigator and the deeper he gets the more dangerous it becomes. He eventually asks for help, and his help turns out to be the very person that looked into him so extensively, Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth's research abilities and computer hacking skills prove to be very helpful to Mikael.
If I saw this movie earlier, I would have without a doubt found a spot for it on my top films of 2011 list. Rooney Mara's performance as Lisbeth Salander is worth watching and she rightfully is up for the Best Actress award for the year. She does a terrific job of displaying how damaged her character is with an undertone of violence and a certain sexual presence all at once. Daniel Craig also does a terrific job as Mikael Blomkvist making him into a very likable character that we immediately can care for. He also plays Mikael with a certain damaged kind of quality that we all can sort of sympathize with. The long running time of the film can lose some, and even the slow beginning but when it picks up, it really does pick up full throttle. The score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is also a very good one, and to no surprise they are up for an award for their work on this film. The creepy credits sequence mixed with their take on Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song fits perfectly with the odd, Gothic tone of the film while also giving the viewer a glimpse into how disturbing the film will be. The film has one scene in particular that is incredibly brutal, disturbing and violent that may seem pointless to the main story but does provide character development for Lisbeth. David Fincher and Steve Zaillian again manage to create a terrific film together.