I’m in a bit of a quandary. I watched David Fincher’s 2011 remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo without having previously seen the original Swedish films. I’ve wanted to, I’ve just never gotten around to watching them. I’ve heard great things about Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander, and about the trilogy in general, but I just never bothered to track them down. Whether this would either benefit or hinder my watching experience of Fincher’s version, I cannot tell, but it does leave me free to judge the film on its own merits rather than comparing it to the original released only two years before, so I’ll at least try and do that.
First off, the acting. Lisbeth Salander this time around is played by relative unknown Rooney Mara, and she gives the very definition of a breakout performance. There are so many facets and layers to Lisbeth that we as viewers can’t help but be massively interested in the character, wanting to know more about her and why she is how she is, like a crystal with a million little imperfections in it. Much of this is thanks to the writing and the original book, but equally much of this is thanks to Mara, and her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress is a reflection of this. Daniel Craig is much more subdued, seemingly wanting instead to remain a wallflower, except when his interest is piqued either by Lisbeth or by his investigation. It’s slight, but no less important a performance. Now, since this is a typical Fincher film, and anyone reading this who knows enough about Fincher and has seen enough of his films will know what a “typical Fincher film” looks like, I can truncate this explanation; lots of muted colors, so everything seemingly blurs together, a dark color palette, highlighted on occasions by striking almost-neon swatches of color, accompanied by an eclectic, if simply constructed, modern music score.
This film seemed so similar in tone and style to The Social Network that I originally wasn’t planning on seeing it; a spiritual successor if there ever were, so if you’ve seen the former, much about the latter will seem familiar to you. Still, I needn’t have worried too much; this is a great film in many ways, mostly the performances and the atmosphere. However, its biggest fault is its length; it’s long, and it feels like it, even though there is a lot of ground to cover with the material presented, so if you’re not a fan of lengthy running times, be cautious about this one, but don’t be turned off entirely. A Fincher film is usually too entertaining, especially for a wide audience, to warrant overlooking it, and this one is no different.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10