Before a screening I attended a number of months ago, we were shown 8 minutes of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I had heard about the book series and about the Swedish film, and after seeing that footage, I was very excited to see the film in its entirety. With a director like David Fincher, I knew that if anything, it would be stylish yet timeless and would push boundaries. While it delivered everything I had hoped for and more, I still couldn’t help feeling unfulfilled at the end (even with a running time of 2 hours and 38 minutes). This felt more like a director’s cut than a theatrical version.
The story is in several segments, so it’s difficult to sum up as a plot line, but basically, the main story is a journalist, Mikael (Daniel Craig), enlists the help of a young research assistant, Lisbeth (Rooney Mara), to investigate the disappearance of a young woman missing for over forty years. I found that part to be incredibly fascinating, but unfortunately, we are never told the whole story of the resolution or some of the major particulars of the case. Instead, the film only hints at being a thriller and never fully commits to it. I wanted more edge-of-my-seat, nail-biting drama. The audience is given too much information and it was not difficult to predict several aspects.
I also didn’t care for how the main character shifted now and then from Mikael and Lisbeth. At times it focused all on him, then suddenly it focused more on her, but at the same time there were other completely different story lines converging. It became difficult to identify with either of the characters,
There are several different things in the plus column. First, the soundtrack. David Fincher once again worked with Trent Reznor after the success of The Social Network. Unlike that score, this one is a lot more understated and works very well as a backdrop, never outweighing anything on screen.
Rooney Mara (Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend at the beginning of The Social Network) is phenomenal as Lisbeth, the brilliant, quiet, if not socially inept, research assistant. She handles herself with ease yet pushes people away by pure body language. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) stood out more for his impeccable fashion. His character didn’t seem to possess a particular fashion sense, yet he was dressed to the nines at every occasion. Robin Wright (The Conspirator), although she had a small role, was clumsy and her accent was distracting as being completely unnatural and forced. Christopher Plummer (Beginners), on the other hand, was superb of course, as well as Stellan Skarsgård (Melancholia), who has been popping up more and more lately in film.
The film is also very graphic, and even though it is not of the level of Fincher’s other works, it will certainly cause some to be very uncomfortable. It takes the R rating very seriously. This is not a film to bring along the kids. In any other director’s hands I would probably not have liked this film at all, but there is something quite gorgeous about the camera movements and the photography that saves it.
Rating: Best to watch in the theater where you can give it your complete attention. 6/10