The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011 ★★½

I was never a fan of the Swedish original or the soporific sequels but I was curious to see what David Fincher could bring to the story given his excellent track record in the thriller genre. Sadly, it seems even Fincher couldn’t breathe life into this bafflingly popular crime series.

On a technical level the film is a triumph. It looks beautiful with an excellent use of lighting and it really captures the harsh cold landscape of Sweden. The soundtrack is also very good and whilst it might not be up there with Reznor and Ross’ work on The Social Network it is still very fitting. The performances are decent across the board. I don’t understand why Daniel Craig does not even attempt a Swedish accent whilst everybody else does but he is fine in the lead role and given good support from the ever reliable Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård. Rooney Mara does an excellent job in a role tricky role, not least because everybody raves about Noomi Rapace’s portrayal. With both films being so similar it is hard not to compare the two and for me I actually think I prefer Mara’s interpretation (although I find Rapace to be one of the most overrated actors around at the moment which does cloud my judgement).

So where is the problem? Well for me it is very much in the story department. This is no better than a million other detective thrillers out there. People will talk about how brutal it can be and how different the characters are but I don’t really agree with either point. Lisbeth is an attention grabbing presence but I never find her involvement in the plot all that compelling. In fact she is far more interesting when completely separate from the main investigation. Blomkvist is a flat out dull protagonist whilst his relationship with Lisbeth is never really expanded upon in any interesting or meaningful way. The film is needlessly slow, the twists are no better than many TV detective series (in fact it is significantly less interesting than some Scandinavian television at the moment) and there is little emotional investment for the audience and it sticks so closely to the Swedish original it all seems a waste of Fincher’s obvious talents.

Clearly my main issues with the film stem from the source (although I haven’t read it so can only assume this is a faithful adaptation) and seeing as I genuinely hated the other films in the series I can only hope Fincher jumps ship in favour of more interesting challenges.

7 Comments

  • There are a few moments in the film that shine for me, and it's mostly due to Fincher's direction and the performances he gets out of the actors. The general atmosphere is great, but past that there's virtually nothing to care about.

  • It's true the atmosphere is great but as you say it is hard to care about the story or even the characters. The opening credits were great though.

  • I think you care about Lizbeth from the start if the film and when she turns into a vigilante towards the middle of the film, people are okay with the act she committed even though it is a terrible thing she did. I think Finchers control of the film makes it better than what it is because honestly Fincher is worthy of a better film than this because you can only do so much without offending the fans. It reminds me of a Silence of the Lamb type movie.

  • Clearly it's Fincher that's the master here.

    While I do hope he helms the rest of the series (because it'll be weird and probably very dull if he doesn't), if he were to jump ship to do another interesting detective story (remember how great Se7en is!?) I'm all for it!

  • @Adam: Given how poor the Swedish sequels were I'm really not sure there is any need for remakes of the remaining two stories. I am curious to see what Fincher does next though.

  • Fincher's next film is (surprise) a thriller named Gone Girl starring Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Kim Dickens, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry.

  • My girlfriend just finished reading that novel. Sounds like it'll make a great film, especially if Fincher is involved (and even if Affleck is acting).

Please to comment.