The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Directed by David Fincher
A paragraph about how I don't get Daniel Graig: So I don't like James Bond and I was not impressed when Daniel Graig became the newest Bond...indifference was my non-reaction. Daniel Graig is hot according to a lot of hetero women and a lot of hetero men. Especially the men I think, because somehow they think of Steve McQueen (and I don't get him either). Ok, so simply he's not my type – as in nothing ticks, or to put it more clearly: he looks like a catalogue model in the monthly catalogue the big and fancy department store keeps sending us over here. Nothing moves.
Sometimes, very rarely, I like to challenge my jumpy self and watch something that will haunt me for the next days – and especially the nights. On most days there is no way I would watch The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I was (secretly) fascinated by the film already years ago when it hit the cinemas. I guess that the original Swedish book by Stieg Larsson was somewhere in the back of my mind (although I had never read it). So I submitted myself to this movie and was horrified and on the edge for many nights. It demanded my full attention and I could not drop the plot even in my sleep (but kept trying to figure out who the murderer was).
Rooney Mara was the real star of this film. I loved her. If I was a lot younger I would have loved her fanatically. She was extremely intelligent, strong, hurt, abused, sick, smart, sexy, imperfect and perfect at the same time. Her character was much like an animated superhero on her motorbike, yet she wasn't a super hero at all. I felt safe throughout the horrors of the film knowing that she would figure it all out and she would revenge. She did it all while the leading male character was busy looking like an add...
he was the candy, she was the action – and that right there is subversive still in 2013 Hollywood-land.
I was surprised Astrid was enthused to watch this. It's the kind of film she flatly refuses to engage with. Neither of us have read the books or seen the Swedish version of this. Depending on whose opinion you trust, the original is superior or a terrible travesty. David Fincher brings a cinematic quality the original lacked and so on and so on. I knew nothing about this other than it had some Goth overtones (Reznor did the Soundtrack) and some highly sexualised posters I'd seen on Tumblr. The late Stieg Larsson's Millenium series of books (TGWTDT is based on the first of these) have been hugely successful. The original Swedish title of this book Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) gives us clues about the tone of David Fincher's film.
Yes, one could argue that Rooney Mara (excellent) playing the disturbed computer hacker and almost super-hero-like outcast Lisbeth Salander is a genuine heroine of our times. But I found her character's victimisation hard to take and her general seedy back-story was cliche ridden and typically male in execution. The way Fincher directs a central rape scene is too stylised. Personally I found the weaker male character, journalist Mikael Blomqvist (a wimpy, at times helpless Daniel Craig) far more interesting as the film purposely de-masculates our current Bond actor. If any real subversiveness occurs with this film, it's here.
Otherwise, TGWTDT is a very good, stylised thriller which manages to have great central performances. It's tense as hell – or leads you to believe so. The film has heavy nods to Silence Of The Lambs and even Blow Up. But Fincher reminds us who's at the helm with the look and atmosphere. One last feeling I got from the film was one of brevity and lightness despite the dark subject matter (rape, murder etc.) TGWTDT never quite delivers it's promise. But that's ok. It's a soft and enjoyable disappointment.