Mania Grade: A-
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- Reviewed by:: Tim Janson
- Rated:: R
- Cast:: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright
- Writer:: Stieg Larsson (novel), Steven Zallian (Screenplay)
- Director:: David Fincher
- Distributor:: Sony Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release:: 2011
- Extras:: Audio Commentary
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Rooney Mara is captivating
By Tim Janson
March 27, 2012
Films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tend to irk me…Oh don’t jump to the wrong conclusion, I loved the film. And when Oscar time came around the film earned five nominations. Sure most of these were in technical categories like sound mixing, editing (which it won for) While co-star Rooney Mara did get nominated for Best Actress you got the distinct feeling that they were just throwing fans of mainstream films a bone while drooling over dreck like “The Artist” and the fans who have actually seen that film…all seven of them. Ahh Hollywood…you are a harsh mistress.
Daniel Craig takes a break from playing James Bond to star in a far gritty role as Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Blomkvist has had his career derailed after losing a libel case brought against him by corrupt businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an underground computer hacker, has compiled a background check on Blomkvist for a job that a wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) wants him to perform.
Vanger unfolds a decades old mystery. He wants to know what happened to his niece Harriet who disappeared 40 years earlier and is presumed dead. Mikael finds himself caught up in a web of family disputes that go back for decades. Most of the entire Vanger family lives on a private island, not speaking to each other and all with skeletons in their closet. Salander’s story is told separately for the first half of the film. A ward of the state due to emotional and mental instability, Lisbeth has been tormented throughout her life by figures of authority from her father, to her social worker who forces her into lewd sex acts.
Separately their stories are captivating but the true chemistry begins when Mikael discovers the background report that Lisbeth prepared and brings her on as his research partner. They discover that Harriet’s disappearance is only the beginning of a string of serial murders that involve deeply buried family secrets.
There are actresses that play bad asses like Angelina Jolie and then there are those that truly seem like they are not acting. Rooney Mara definitely calls into the latter category. Maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet, she confronts her abusive case worker who is three times her size…and you almost feel sorry for the sleaze bag. Her eyes are able to convey more character than most actresses could do in a similar role with far more dialog. She is lurid, sexy, and chilling all in one package. Her Oscar nomination was well-deserved. Craig was fine as well in a more reserved role for him.
Director David Fincher, who also helmed films such as “Seven” and “Fight Club”, masterfully navigates a plot that is filled with one bizarre twist after another but never becomes convoluted. Despite the re-herrings that are thrown out, the one true disappointment of the film is almost anti-climactic as anyone who’s familiar with this particular actors body of work will know that they have a history of playing villainous roles and I was hoping for one more curveball that never came. The romantic chemistry between Mikael and Lisbeth seemed forced and needless but it’s something you can chalk up to her general “weirdness”.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is bolstered by several outstanding supporting performances including Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff, and Donald Sumpter. The film is based upon the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. Both Craig and Mara have signed on to do two sequels: The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the abstract opening title sequence which is unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Audio Commentary with Director David Fincher.