Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Poster courtesy of Sony/Columbia Pictures (via flicksandbits.com).  All rights reserved.  I do not own this image.  For entertainment purposes only.

                When a movie based on a book or a foreign language movie (or both) comes out, you usually end up with a dilemma.  Do you go to Netflix and try to find it before you go out to see the new one or do you go in cold?  Last night, I went in cold.  It turned into the second best decision I made all year.
                Millennium Magazine’s Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) just lost a high profile libel case against billionaire businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström, whom Blomkvist accused of various illegal financial accounts & activities.  Soon afterwards, he is contacted by another billionaire, Henrik Vander (Plummer), to write a family memoir, and possibly solving a 40-year family mystery, in exchange for cash and significant evidence against Wennerstrӧm.  Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Mara) is working ultra-undercover for a security company also investigating .Wennerstrӧm.  Because of severe troubled childhood, she is constantly looked over by her legal guardian and an overbearing social worker.  Eventually, Vander brings the two of them together to investigate the family.
                Based on the first of a posthumous trilogy by Swedish magazine writer Steig Larsson, “Dragon Tattoo” is mainly a mystery novel expertly adapted to the screen by Oscar winner Steven Zaillian and director extraordinaire David Fincher.  Zaillian & Fincher wisely and brilliantly use every frame of every second of the movie to squeeze in as much detail as possible in the 155 minute film.  They also have enough faith that the audience to allow the movie to slowly unfold before accelerating to a comfortable pace in the third act and epilogue.  That’s right, an epilogue in a modern American motion picture.
                Craig, Plummer and the ever present Stellen Skarsgård are all wonderful in the film but the star, revelation, eye-opener, whatever you want to call it is Rooney Mara as “The Girl”.  From the second she walks in, she takes over the screen unlike any actress I’ve seen in quite a while.  And best of all, “The Girl” and Mara’s performance, just like the story, evolve over the full running time.  Mara will devastate you in the epilogue.
                Now two warnings: The movie is rated R for a reason.  There are some graphic images and sequences throughout.  What did you expect from the guy who brought you “Se7en”?  Also, I consider this the ultimate anti-date movie.  Only bring someone to this if there is no existing or no further romantic prospects or if you are bound to each other by legal documentation.  This movie is dark & dreary & a little demented, so just fair warning.
                When all is said and done, “Dragon Tattoo” is a wonderful cinematic experience on top of being just a nearly perfectly executed motion picture.  Fincher proves once again that he can & will shoot anything and shoot it best.  Anyone who loves characters and acting will absolutely fall for Rooney Mara and her Lisbeth Salander.  In conclusion, I have one request: Let’s see Tom Hooper direct a movie like this.

***** (out of 5 stars)

1 comment:

  1. I like the "legal documentation" line. I look forward to seeing this--your review will motivate me to get to the cinema for it. I liked the Swedish films, and am interested to hear your view once you see them. I enjoy your blog!