Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

“Soon you'll know us all too well, with my apologies.

Director: David Fincher
Actors: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer
Writers: Steven Zallian

David Fincher is back with the feel bad movie of the season. I was very interested in what he would bring to this remake/adaptation. Naomi Rapace had left such an impression as Lisbeth Salander, it was going to be a hard job for whomever was going to take the role. So was the creative might of Fincher used to its fullest, or did it fail to deliver anything significant.

The first significant thing that Fincher delivers is a brilliant visual quality creates an ever present feeling of gloom. Truly an improvement over the original movie, but for a Fincher movie there aren’t as many camera flourishes as normal. I’m guessing that by toning down his own style, there was an attempt to truly concentrate on the atmosphere. However while I was still taken in by the visuals I wanted more of what Fincher normally delivers.

Acting wise we yet again have an improvement. Daniel Craig is fantastic as Mikael Blomkvist, and gives a nuanced performance. Blomkvist seems like a truly broken man desperate to find redemption. Rooney Mara excels as Lisbeth Salander and plays her much more down beat. Coming off more fragile, her sudden bursts of violence do jar, and are therefore is more impactful. Rooney also manages to create a more developed persona, and this fleshing out yet again makes the more incredible parts of the character stand out. All the other actors are just as good in their roles, but it’s truly Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara at the centre of everything.

Now we come down to the weakest element of the movie, and that’s the script. Now it’s a very serviceable script, and manages to fine tune the movie so it’s a lot smoother. A few plot elements are dropped but they were just convoluted to begin with. Where I was disappointed in this regards, was just a lack of added depth from Fincher. In all of Fincher’s movies there seems to be layers to delve through but in this case there’s just the plot. Considering the source material on offer there was a lot Fincher could have done, especially exploring darker elements. While this doesn’t trash the movie, it certainly makes this a lesser work of David Fincher.

On a more nit picky level, the music while good (I want to get the soundtrack) was only good by itself. In the movie it was too obtrusive, and sometimes wrecked the scene I was watching. Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor are a good team, but this was just a wrong call. Also I’m not sure what the idea behind the opening credits was but it’s completely misplaced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best music video I’ve watched in a while, but it just sets the wrong tone.

If you’re after a stylish thriller then this is a good port of call. David Fincher gives us a solid film with some great performances, but when compared to the rest of his films there is something lacking. I’m not really sure if having this was a worth while remake, but we’re not poorer for it. Give this a try, just don’t expect too much.

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