Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

To this day I still say with misplaced pride that I have never touched a Harry Potter novel let alone read one.  The same can now be said for the Stieg Larsson trilogy.

The Swedish films have always been appealing but unfortunately they have never made it off the dvds to watch list. There is something about this particular series which requires more effort than I am prepared to give.

To cut a long story short – I went to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 100% blind.

PLOT:  Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a disgraced journalist who is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the murder of his granddaughter.  Mikael enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) an extremely troubled yet talented investigator to help him solve the mystery.  END PLOT

The murder mystery plot-line was strong yet in hindsight it had a real feel of “heard it all before” to it.  Despite having no knowledge of how this story arc would play out the casting made it quite obvious just who was likely to be the villain in the final showdown. 

The ending of the film was very disappointing as it just seemed to drag on and on and then on some more ensuring that I will now have arthritis in my knees before I am thirty.  

Lisbeth’s sudden ability to create disguises and steal bank bonds felt very out of place with the rest of the film.  The final scene with Lisbeth riding off into the snowfall after watching Mikael kiss his girlfriend was as dramatic as a daytime soap opera.  I have no idea how it compares with the ending of the book but it didn't work well on the big screen.  The last twenty minutes of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo were incredibly weak.

Luckily The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo had more to offer than the murder mystery plot with the character of Lisbeth Salander who is not your average detective.  The fact that Rooney Mara is essentially a newcomer worked very much in her favour and she was excellent as Lisbeth.  Kudos must be given to Mara as some of the scenes were very dark.

I am not against violence in film provided it isn’t shoehorned in like that one “fuck” in a 12A but The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo did have some extremely graphic scenes of sexual assault.  It was an uncomfortable watch due to the content but also because of the performances of Mara and Yorick van Wageningen  The character of Bjurman, Lisbeth’s social worker, was very quiet, dangerous and probably more effective than the main villain.  This character played a very small, yet important role. 

Daniel Craig is an actor I don’t care for but his performance was less wooden than usual, Stellan Skarsgard's Swedish accent still sounds out of place even in a film based in Sweden and I was mistaken in my belief that Christopher Plummer had died.  The supporting cast were all fine but this is Mara's film.

Much has been said about Trent Reznor’s score although I cannot recall paying much attention to it whilst watching the film.  Reznor may have created a piece of music on par with Bach but it will forever remain unappreciated due to the fantastic use of Enya in the most unexpected of places.  Enya will finally learn what type of clientèle her music attracts. 

The film looked stunning and you can’t fault David Fincher’s direction.  I am a fan of Fincher but he does have a habit of making films which I love yet don’t watch more than once in several blue moons.  I appreciate everything about this film yet I know that it is unlikely to be viewed again. 

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is probably the best film I have watched in a long time and the fact that it was sandwiched between Sherlock Holmes and MI4 made it oddly refreshing to watch something dark over the festive period.   I absolutely loved the film and it scores a high 8/10; it would have scored higher if the ending wasn’t so long and drawn out. 

Did it inspire me to read the novels? No, and I say that without missing a beat.  The book snob in me can’t help but see it as another crime novel which just happened to get lucky.

Did it inspire me to finally watch the Swedish films?  They have moved slightly higher up my 2012 to do list. 


  1. Great write up as usual K, I do recommend the Swedish version. I enjoyed both versions but can say the quality level is that far off from each other to make one substantially better than the other.

    The plot of this first film is kind of a head scratcher, in terms of what was so attractive to the general audiences, because I never really thought it was particularly engaging.

    The 2nd one has a much more interesting story in my opinion.

    The Swedish and American version are propped up by interesting character and spectacular performances by the main actors. I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts after you see the Swedish version and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth.

  2. I hope this is not a remake on Hollywood style because I liked the Swedish version not for the image quality but for the story, the characters and the atmospheres.