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Movie Review: 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Starring Daniel Craig, Ronney Mara and Christopher Plummer
Directed by David Fincher
Rated R

Pulsating with darkness and cranking the pacing to 11, David Fincher creates an ever degrading environment in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, perpetuated by a single mentality: Men Who Hate Woman.  There’s no way to convey that message if it isn’t accompanied by retaliation and does it ever haunt its maleficent.  Stieg Larsson’s novel is an international best-seller with over 30 million copies sold, there’s a fan base, if not a particular group, that’s very well aware of its plot and thematic tour-de-force and is entirely evident in Steven Zaillain's tightly-knit screenplay.

Having seen the original Swedish TV adaptation, I can certainly say that Fincher imbues the world that Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) inhabit.  Dark, dreary and certainly grey, the film has pain and vengeance waiting to reap at every corner.  If you’re not familiar with the plot, here’s a quick take: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.  Touted in it’s trailers as “the feel bad movie of the year”, the thriller conveys sex and its inevitable abuse and exploitation.

Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) can easily be portrayed as a victim, but she’s a survivor; in that her life was consistent with institutional abuse by those she had to depend on and soon became aware of her surroundings and never let go of the power she gained from it.  Similarly, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) was suffering from being thwarted in taking down the CEO of a mega-corporation and slowly stepped away from confrontation, only to find himself investigation the murder of Harriet Vanger by her uncle Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), a family saga that has been spanning for over 40 years.

Accompanied by a cold and calculated soundtrack composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (duo behind Oscar winning score for Fincher’s previous film, The Social Network), they create an atmosphere that penetrates and inhabits the cold Swedish land.  The innovation is also reflected in the quasi-“music video” reminding us of the opening of Se7en, Karen O’s vocals is lent to the cover of “Immigrant Song” and has this bleakness establishing the hyper-kinetic world of the digital information reflected in the stark beauty of flowers (a symbolic element in the film) as poignancy for hidden lies.

Coming in at a running time 158 minutes, Dragon Tattoo never lets up, constantly evolving the story and the characters inhabiting them.  Rooney Mara takes the angry and socially reclusive hacker Lisbeth Salander to new heights, while Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist’s curiosity while investigating a true mystery; both seek vengeance for the men who hate women.  Fincher’s direction is so grandiose, but never splashy by focusing on his group of characters, letting them and their mysteries drive the mysterious thriller.

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