The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is fun, pulpy film-noir. David Fincher brings us a slickly made thriller, but was it worth his time?
One of the biggest problems I had with the film is just a general lack of cohesion. Ultimately, Harriet’s mystery is not linked to the mystery of who is killing these girls. Finding out who is the serial killer it doesn’t lead to Harriet. Rather, they are found out simultaneously. And they don’t need to come at all to solve the other. This was my problem with the Swedish film as well.
Also, I don’t understand why movies set in foreign countries do this thing where they speak in English, but also in a broken dialect. They call each other Her instead of Mr. Some of them with a Swedish accent. It doesn’t make sense. If you’re going to transpose this to English for American audiences, because ostensibly international audiences have already seen the movie, then why on earth would you not go all the way? Set it in America. A setting such as New England, maybe on Nantucket or a similar island, would have been an intriguing choice and quite possibly forced them to modify the story a bit.
Also, one of the problems, and I think the Swedish film did this better, is a lack of red herrings. Really, the only person who is at all a suspect is Martin. There’s never a hint that Cecilia is a possible suspect. They try to point to the old uncle. He actually seems like a nice guy (the whole Nazi thing aside). In the Swedish version, they did a much better job of giving us a few possible suspects. At the beginning Christopher Plummer says, ‘You’re going to meet my family, they’re all detestable.” But we don’t. I would have liked to meet them all. Give us a bunch of culprits. I think that is one of the major short comings of the movie.
I do think Fincher is a much better director and all the little flourishes he brings make the movie more interesting to the eyes. I like Daniel Craig, but I like the idea that this guy is more of a mook. Unathletic and unassuming. They say he’s a lady’s man, but this is only because he’s sleeping with his co-editor who happens to be attractive. If he were sleeping with someone less attractive than Robin Wright (although she really doesn’t look that good here) would he be a ladies man? Lisbeth Salander is hardly a cover model. In this version, the only reason she falls for him is he is Daniel Craig and the co-editor just seems like a whore. In the Swedish version, he was a man of conviction – working at the Millenium for a cause greater than him. Here, he’s just a macho good-looking guy.
I do like Rooney Mara’s performance here. She is a lot more vulnerable than Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth. Which is good and bad in some ways, but I liked it. It gave the character more depth. I enjoyed the scene they added with her old guardian because it shows that she has some feelings. The fact that she’s younger plays into this as well.
Ultimately this is Lisbeth’s movie and when she’s not on screen it’s not exciting. She’s only on screen for about 1/3 of the film. The case is not hers, it is Bloomqvist’s. We have all of this character setup with her, which is all fun and interesting, but it does not drive the story forward at all. It could be considered meandering for some. I wish they tied that all in better. And that Steve Zaillion didn’t stay so close to the book, going out on a limb a bit. Because this story has already been told. And I don’t think this version, aside from Fincher’s technical abilities, brings much more to the table.