Home > Film Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Review

the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-poster The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Review

By James Clark

Score 4/5 200px-4_stars-svg11


When it was decided that Hollywood were to get their hands on Stieg Larsson’s conspiracy thriller novel and translate it into the English language, there seemed to be only one director to handle this kind of material.  After his success with films like Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999) and more recently with The Social Network (2010), David Fincher seemed the ideal choice to bring the raw violence and intensity of this story to audiences.  He hasn’t disappointed.  From the hypnotic, Bondian title sequence to the abrupt editing and stark cinematography, Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo excites and engages the audience from the get go. 

Having not completed Larsson’s first novel I admit coming into the film a little clueless as to what to expect, but my nerves were unnecessary.  Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in particular are inspired casting for Blomkvist, a shamed journalist who is given the task of discovering who murdered a teenage girl 40 years ago, and Salander, a sharp, intelligent, socially and mentally unstable reporter who eventually assists Blomkvist in solving the mystery.  The film is dark because the subject matter upon which it is based is dark; therefore there is both a rape and a torture sequence, both of which are thankfully not prolonged, yet still difficult to watch for those with a nervous disposition.  Don’t let this put you off if you are intending to see the film.  These scenes make up roughly 10 minutes of screen time in an otherwise highly watchable and intriguing film. 

girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-poster What Fincher does particularly well is stylishly deviate from the violence in order to flesh out the characters.  In Seven, the crimes committed are vital to the narrative but it is the relationship between Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman’s private detectives; the pro and the rookie, that is afforded the greatest depth and audience investment.  Similarly with Fight Club, it is Edward Norton and Brad Pitt and the conflicts of personality that capture our attention over the physical violence of the fight club itself.  Here, Fincher gives our protagonists more than adequate screen time in order to flesh out their characters. 

Mara’s Lisbeth may be anti social and dangerous but she is an asset to Blomkvist in solving the case.  She is tenacious, she stands up for herself and her body image and we are engrossed in her ability to convey so much with just a glance.  Short cuts between the narrative – of Salander being mugged in the underground and overcoming the mugger, and being raped and getting her revenge on the rapist, develop this character to the level that although she is one of few women in the story, she is the strongest character. 

Craig’s Blomkvist begins by jeopardising the future of his company and his reputation but ultimately redeems himself by solving the case, though crucially with the help of Lisbeth.  Craig and Mara spark off each other brilliantly and their relationship seems entirely plausible.  Some of the casting is questionable – Joely Richardson as one of the central characters of the story seems an offbeat choice – and a fair amount of back story and explanation is cut to quicken the pace of an already long film, but this is ultimately another impressive film to add to Fincher’s catalogue. This could be the first of I hope many films in 2012 that make you go “I need to see that again.”


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