THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is a perfectly well made movie that has absolutely no reason to exist. It adds nothing to the Swedish original, despite being directed by the spiky, visually astute director David Fincher (THE SOCIAL NETWORK). It feels like just another faithful retelling of Stieg Larsson's best-selling thriller (whose plot I won't bother to recount), albeit with a bigger budget and better production values. Fincher's fingerprints were too subtly felt. Let's be honest, if all we'd been given were a music video for Karen O singing Trent Resznor and Atticus Ross' reworking of The Immigrant Song with the wicked cool opening credits, we'd have gone home as happy as if we'd sat through the entire three hour movie.
If I wanted to get more granular I'd point out the following - two positives and two negative. I prefer Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander to Noomi Rapace, not because there was anything wrong with Rapace's performance, but because Rapace feels more like a woman, and Mara really does look like a girl (although I concede that in the novel she's 23). That makes her victimisation worse, her toughness more impressive, her being a ward of the state more credible. Second, I really liked Jeff Cronenweth's digital lensing using the Red One.
The first negative is a bugbear I have with many English language movies set in a non-English speaking countries. Simply put, I want the director to decide what he wants to do with the accent in the film and then stick to it consistently. I don't care if the Yanks and Brits are speaking English with some undefined mittel-europische accent, or some approximation at it, but I don't want half doing straight English and half doing cod-Swedish. There's nothing that draws me out of a scene more than seeing Daniel Craig speaking straight English to Rooney Mara trying to do a Swedish accent complete with "hey hey"s and whatnot.
My second bugbear is the perfunctory manner in which the relationship between Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist is handled in the remake. In the original movie, the genuine chemistry between Michael Nyqvist and Rapace really did centre the film and make us hungry for the next movie. But in Fincher's take it's all too superficial, and betrays what's meant to be a deeply emotional moment at the end of the flick. In fact, the movie has a wider problem, which is the very dull, slightly bizarre (plot points changed for no real reason) ending, that drags on for 30 minutes.
Overall, a pretty banal retelling once the opening credits are done. Looks like Fincher did it for the paycheck and directed with a very light hand.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is on release in the UK, USA, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Israel and Slovenia. It is released on January 6th in Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Bulgaria, Estonia, India and Australia. It is released on January 12th in Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain and Turkey. It is released on January 19th in Belgium, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Portugal. It opens on January 27th in Brazil; on February 3rd in Italy and later in February in Japan.
Rooney Mara won Best Breakthrough Performer, tied with Felicity Jones for LIKE CRAZY, at the National Board of Review awards 2011.