The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 5 awards.
Nominated for Actress (Rooney Mara), Cinematography (Jeff Cronenweth), Film Editing (Kirk BaxterAngus Wall), Sound Editing (Ren Kluce), and Sound Mixing (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Bo Persson).
Watched October 20, 2012.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has David Fincher stamped all over it.  It you have seen Fight Club, The Social Network, and/or Benjamin Button, you will recognize the beautiful imagery and artistry of one of my favourite directors.  Based on the first book of a famous series by Stieg Larsson, the English version that follows but is not a remake of the Swedish films, is a fast paced, audio-driven investigation of a killer of women with characters more deeply troubled than one would like to imagine.


Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist with a recently ruined reputation.  He is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the age old murder of his niece Harriet.  On a remote, frozen island in Sweden, Mikael holes himself up in Henrik’s guest house and sets to work getting to know the troubled Vanger family.  They are a group of communists, alcoholics, rapists, and murderers.


Our other protagonist is the true star of the film, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).  After trying to kill her father, Lisbeth became a ward of the state and has been abused ever since.  Her hard exterior and self proclaimed psychopathic habits alienate her a bit from the audience, and yet strangely make one cheer for her.  After watching her be brutally raped by her social worker, we then get to watch her exact cruel but deserved revenge on him.  Despite her unconventional and abusive upbringing, Lisbeth is a computer genius with the ability to hack into anyone’s computer and conduct incredibly thorough and incredibly illegal background checks for her employer (and also a little bit for herself).



Over an hour into the film, our two protagonists are finally brought together.  Mikael accepts her without question, although Lisbeth does not seek his acceptance.  Her interest is caught when he asks her to catch this killer of women and immediately she is off and solving mysteries the original investigator had never even dreamed of, let alone that they were somehow linked to the Vangers and Harriet.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is often overly graphic as well as driven more by the suspenseful music than what is really happening on screen.  Lisbeth’s character has a lot of depth to her–every scene seems to peel back another asset of her character.  Mikael, on the other hand, seems to be a little one note, which is of course no fault of Craig, who is a consistently brilliant actor.  The relationship between the two is little developed and somehow becomes affectionate, probably because Mikael has a daughter and Lisbeth is attracted to that.  Her relationship with him is more understandable than his with her, but somehow the fact that it shouldn’t work makes it all right.


The imagery–cinematography and art direction–along with the sound of this film are beyond spellbinding.  The story is a bit lacking and the ending seems completely off balance with the rest of the film, but all in all, it is a good Oscar contending film.  I appreciate the nominations.  I’m not a fan of films involving rape scenes, but because of Lisbeth’s triumph over her rapist in the end, I felt a little better about this one.


I would definitely recommend this film.  It has a lot of graphic sex and violence, therefore its ‘R’ rating is something to be aware of, but if you have missed this film I would definitely recommend it as a Friday night thriller!


Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesThe Guardian,  Movie Film Reviews


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