At one point in David Fincher’s new movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” a police officer asks bad girl-hacker-heroine Lisbeth Salander when she last ate before showing her some pictures of old crime scenes. “It’s better to see what you’re about to see on an empty stomach,” he says. I would give the same advice to anyone going to see this movie.
The story follows disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as he tries to help Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), the head of a Swedish corporation, solve a decades-old mystery with the help of Salander (Rooney Mara), a young private investigator with major social problems.
Fincher’s new take on Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel earns every bit of its R rating. The darkness of scenes depicting brutal rapes and kitten mutilation makes it your last option when bringing a girl on a first date. If you are an adult and can handle such things, I suggest checking this movie out as soon as possible.
While many novels-turned-movies leave fans arguing over which one is better (Into the Wild, No Country for Old Men), this one also has a Denmark version from 2009 with a cult following of its own.
I will be honest; as much as I try to be hip enough to watch movies with subtitles, I think it takes a bit away from the experience. There are certain subtle aspects of a movie like body language and facial expressions that can subconsciously add a lot to the story. These aspects can get lost when you’re busy reading the script below the screen, no matter how good of a reader you are.
That being said, it wasn’t long into the movie before I realized I could really use some subtitles for the English being spoken in this version. Maybe it’s the weather in Sweden or just the fact that other countries have IKEAs now too, but people don’t exactly seem to speak cheerfully or even understandably. Of course, I am speaking about movie characters and don’t want to judge the people of that country based on a movie in which the actors speak a different language than them.
The star of the movie is undoubtedly Rooney Mara, who plays Lisbeth Salander. She looks just a tad bit different than her Ivy League role as Mark Zuckerberg’s soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend in Social Network. One worry I had going into the movie was whether Rooney would be able to portray the more human side of Salander, which can be done easily in the books by a mind-reading narrator. Rooney does a great job, however, of showing that Salander truly cares for a very select few beyond her hardcore exterior.
Fincher also handles the jumps between present time and flashbacks beautifully. With the change in lighting and accompaniment of narration, Fincher didn’t make it confusing as to which scenes were set in the sixties and which were happening now. That’s easy enough, but the best thing Fincher did in this regard was made sure that the flashbacks stayed exactly that: flashes.
Fincher didn’t spend too much time at once in the past or even give the old characters spoken dialogue, which makes all the difference when trying to give the viewer a sense of memory. In a mystery such as this one, every detail is a key. When the crime happened forty years ago, sometimes those keys can be lost in the mind.
The title sequence is perhaps the oddest part of the movie, with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” done by Trent Reznor of the Nine Inch Nails and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs blasting to graphics of humans and computers dipped in some sort of shiny oil. It threw me off just a bit but it was more entertaining than Fincher’s opening to his last movie, Social Network. I will take a weird, gothic mind trip over a far too long-winded run through Harvard’s campus any day.
I can’t speak for fans of the Denmark film, but this movie (an adaptation, not a remake) will not displease fans of the novels. I could only find one or two plot lines that strayed from the storytelling of the book in miniscule and irrelevant ways. It is only unfortunate that Larsson left this Earth so early and won’t be able to spin any more stories using these great characters. It is only so fortunate for Fincher that Larsson left two more great Salander books to be made into movie magic before his untimely death in 2004.