"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
David Fincher's 2011 film, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", revolves around the forty year disappearance of Harriet Vanger. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson, we meet disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), who is hired by eccentric millionaire Henrik Vanger (the late Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of his niece. When Blomkvist is hesitant to take the job, Vanger offers him the thing he wants most -the ability to bring down Wennerström, the man who almost ended Blomkvist's career.
To assist him in finding out what happened to the young girl, Blomkvist seeks the aid of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Salander is a thin, goth, anti-social 23 year old who has had a traumatic past. She now works as a hacker, and investigates into the lives of people illegally. Blomkvist takes interest in her after he reads the report she made on him for Vanger.
The audience can both emphasize and sympathize with Salander, who's life is filed with loneliness. She's very distant from everyone she meets, including a few friendships she has with other computer nerds. She thinks of sex as casual hookups to pass the time, but never really commits to that one person the next morning. All of that changes however when she meets Blomkvist, who she eventually falls in love with.
She never admits she loves him. She always calls Blomkvist a "friend" throughout the movie, and nothing more. You want her and Blomkvist to fall in love, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, this isn't one of those movies. Her heart will always get broken, and she doesn't believe anyone will be able to fix her. But the real question that she ponders is whether she needs fixing or not. She's comfortable with her lifestyle how it was, and Blomkvist came through and changed all of that. Does she really want that change?
I agree with Roger Ebert's statement in 2011 that the film has "a different air" compared to the Larsson novel published in 2005. When reading the novel, I didn't get the dreary or dark atmosphere that the film promotes. Yes, the novel is dark and full of horrible things such as sodomy and rape for example, but it feels like the movie takes it up a couple notches. I think Fincher tried to go more for the shock factor more than anything.
I like how the film keeps Blomkvist and Salander separate for nearly half of the movie, like the novel does. We see the story of how Salander is appointed a new guardian to take care of her, who is secretly a rapist and rapes Salander on two occasions. She then gets revenge on him by sodomizing him and tattooing "I AM A RAPIST PIG" on his chest. We root for her in getting her revenge, but are mortified at the same time while watching it.
Mara and Craig give good performances as Salander and Blomkvist respectfully. However, they are not what I envisioned reading the novel. Both are more timid and on edge in the novel, while in the film they are extremely confident. But who can blame Craig after playing James Bond for several years before this film.
I think Fincher and the cast did an excellent job bringing the novel to life on the screen. There are a few things throughout the film that annoyed me as they deviated from the book or were darker than Larsson's tale. But, that can be forgotten by the amazing performances and directing by Fincher throughout the film.