The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ★★★½

In a discussion of Spielberg's The Post, a friend observed that Fincher would actually have been a great fit for the story (if not necessarily the particular script) given his unique ability to "attack" the material and flatten it out into pure informational flow. Which is why his inimitable touch is so well-suited to this pulpy, airport-novel mystery. (And why it's hard to think of any other director who could've rendered something like Gone Girl into anything watchable, let alone worth engaging with.) The best scenes here—the library montage, the globe-trotting "investment" sequence—are marvelous in that respect, the first observing an arrangement of information (you can practically see the threads of thought reflected in Mara's eyes), the second tracing the information as it flows outward into the world, weaponized. Small, brilliant moments—the cat dismemberment immediately being documented in a photograph; a scene in Martin's house shot so that the background is almost entirely white—highlight that approach. That said—and this is what keeps me from fully loving the film—some story elements (the rapist social worker scenes, mostly) are still so forceful that they get past Fincher's ability to "flatten" the material, for lack of a better word; they break the cold neutrality of the film in a way that, yes, is meant to unsettle, but still gives me pause. (Random auteurist synergy: Revisited this after seeing the first two episodes of Mindhunter*—which is what put me In the Mood for Fincher in the first place—one of which includes mention of the psychology experiment on conformity about facing the back of the elevator, which made the scene where Lisbeth checks up on the social worker in an elevator, complete with her terrifying, backwards-facing exit, rather entertaining.) Scratches the itch for a good journalism movie, provides some of Fincher's best sequences, and then crushes me with the ending. A great film to watch, as I did, on a winter day with the heat out.

* Not going to continue, though. The episodes are clearly Fincher, but the dialogue was kind of terrible, Groff is a strange fit (thus far), and though the material should be catnip for me, the show really just made me want to continue where I left off with Hannibal. Oh, and the second episode—of a show about serial killers, mind you—ends with a sequence set to "Psycho Killer." I trust that the rest of the show gets better, but if I'm already having trouble with the Fincher episodes, then maybe this one just isn't for me. (Sorry, Asif Kapadia.)