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Review : The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

"Evil shall with evil be expelled"

Released (UK) , Rated 18. Runtime: 158 minutes (2 hours, 38 minutes).

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Official Synopsis: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

Director: David Fincher, Produced By: Ceán Chaffin, Søren Stærmose, Written By: Stieg Larsson, Steven Zaillian

Primary Cast: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff

The Blue Corner - Pete

Blue Corner Review, by Pete

Added March 24th, 2012

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, for all the popularity, is a set of novels I have thus far failed to read – primarily thanks to the fervent hype that appeared to surround them. The original Swedish feature movie and subsequent sequels had also escaped my attention for the same reason, leaving no knowledge of the story outside of the name – sitting in my seat during the trailers I was left with no expectations, no preconceptions and, depressingly, no cream topping on my Sundae (you bastard, Cineworld).

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) - Rooney Mara as Lisbeth SalanderLisbeth Salander, strongly portrayed by Rooney Mara, is the eponymous female with said dragon tattoo, yet it is future cohort Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) the story revolves around. Introduced as the results of a lawsuit are revealed, Mikael is nearing bankruptcy following the failed defence of an article in Millenium magazine. The ability of the now-disgraced journalist for finding the truth behind a story, however, are not doubted by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), or at least they aren’t following a stringent background check completed by Lisbeth, and Mikael is soon living on a desolate Swedish island to follow up an investigation into a girl missing – presumed murdered – for several decades, performed under the guise of researching material for the Vanger memoirs at the bequest of the aging patriarch.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) - Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander & Daniel Craig as Mikael BlomkvistInvestigation into the Vanger dynasty at the time of the disappearance and the seemingly fragile, if not tumultuous, inter-family relationships is a slow, painstaking process; Mikael trawling through masses of documents, albums and aged newspaper clippings in addition to carrying out some strained interviews with the surviving Vanger family members in an effort to crystallise the events leading up to and following the vanishing of Harriet Vanger. It would be fair to say that a procedural ‘whodunnit’ set in IKEA showrooms was probably the last thing I would have been expecting from this story given the fan base, although the inclusion of a few less staple ingredients in the forms of sadism, incest and corruption transforms it into an involving thriller, albeit suffering something of an odd imbalance between the cold investigation and the more intriguing yet anachronistic dynamic between Mikael and Lisbeth, woven slowly into the story surprisingly late on. Suitably complex and conflicted, angry yet pensive, Lisbeth is an excellent character, with Rooney Mara serving up a perfect mix of both fragility and strength on screen. Her at times emotionless and inappropriate responses allow for humour in the movie, yet a level of real undercurrent of unpredictability is retained throughout.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) - Rooney Mara as Lisbeth SalanderWhilst the investigation takes a darker turn, there never felt any real question over who our Scooby-Doo villain was going to be when it came time to unmask him – strange given that the content of many of the clues found and the suppositions made by Mikael and Lisbeth are not actually revealed to the audience during the bulk of the movie. This wasn’t a film wanting the audience to play along – we were simply there for the ride. Perhaps this also serves to show just how effectively Stellan Skarsgård portrays creepy/sinister.

Even with a runtime nearing two and a half hours there was little that felt drawn out or wholly unnecessary, being refreshingly dialogue driven given the current penchant for action-focused stories. Fincher remains one of my favourite Directors, and the polished visuals are striking throughout – from the nightmarish (if a little Bond-esque) opening credits to the cold, harsh Swedish landscapes featured throughout. All set against a bleak, onerous score ably provided by Trent Reznor. I’ll certainly be in queue for the sequels, although there is a very good chance I will relent in the meantime and plump for either the books or original Swedish movies. Either way, I will ensure my Sundaes for them will feature the prerequisite cream topping.

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