Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

My wife was actually much more excited to see David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo than I was. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to see it. I want to see any new David Fincher movie. But I get nervous about seeing movies with particularly brutal violence, such as rape and torture. Sometimes I chicken out entirely. I've got to say, though, I'm glad I didn't chicken out, because I found that I enjoyed the movie way more than I thought I would.

For those who don't know, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery thriller about Mikel Blomqvist (Daniel Craig), a recently disgraced Swedish investigative journalist hired by an old millionaire (Christopher Plummer) to figure out who in his family murdered a niece he was close with 40 years prior. His life soon collides with Lisbeth Salander, a tough, brilliant, but emotionally shut-down hacker who has been more than once been sexually and physically abused by men in her life.

So, was my initial hesitance justified? Not really. Well, kind of. There are multiple rape scenes in the movie, and they're pretty intense and brutal and not for the weak of heart. But whenever I'm nervous about a movie like this, I almost always find that my constitution for this sort of thing on film is a lot stronger than it is in my imagination.

I've read the original Stieg Larsson novel that this movie is based on, but I haven't seen the original Swedish film. I should probably check it out, I suppose. I liked the novel but didn't love it. It was definitely a page-turner when the thriller aspect was going, but there were long stretches that I just didn't find all that interesting. David Fincher actually did a great job of weeding out those parts. There are several scenes of them simply researching old photos and files, but Fincher manages to draw you in and keep it engaging. The story actually continues in the book for 150 pages or so after the huge climactic mystery-solving scene. In the movie, that stuff is thankfully reduced to about a half hour or so. It's still a lot of movie after the story is seemingly over, but I felt like it really drove home that the story is more about the relationship between Blomqvist and Salander than the murder they're investigating.

I liked Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the leads. I'm unable to compare the two of them to the original actors who played them, which may have worked to my benefit. My wife has seen the original and she says both sets of leads are good in different ways.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a pretty great thriller, and it grew on me even more over time. I've probably thought about it more than I've thought about all the other movies I've seen the last few weeks. Zodiac is my favorite of all of David Fincher's films (in fact, one of my favorite films of the last decade), and I think he applied some similar techniques to this film. Certainly the whole making research interesting thing.

If you're not a movie wuss like I am, you should totally check out The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Even if you are, maybe you should give it a shot. I did, and it totally paid off. I hope that it does well enough and that they can lure Fincher back for the sequel, because the story is a great match with Fincher's sensibilities, and Lisbeth Salander is a truly unique and interesting character.

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