THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - Riveting Thriller
THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN TATTOO (drama)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgård, Embeth Davidtz, Joel Kinnaman, Joely Richardson, Goran Visnjic and Julian Sands
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, based on a story by Stieg Larsson
Time: 135 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: "What is hidden in the snow comes forth in the thaw" - this is the tagline of David Fincher's remake of the 2009 Swedish film by Niels Arden Oplev. I have seen the 2009 movie and had thought that it was a well-rendered version of Stieg Larsson's novel. Are there any more things hidden in Larsson's 'snow' that can be uncovered by Fincher?
Apparently, there are...
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The title character is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a Goth-styled computer hacker and investigator who has some childhood issues and problems with a legal guardian. The main plot, however, involves Swedish political journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig) who, at the start of the movie, has lost a libel case and finds his career and life ruined. He is contacted by industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who wants to hire him to write his memoirs. Mikael soon finds that Vanger is more concerned with finding the murderer of his favourite great-niece Harriet who disappeared from family’s island home in 1966...
HITS & MISSES: Larsson's book is rather convoluted and long-winded and Fincher has made it a point to be more concise with the narrative. This version is more comprehensible than the 2009 film and it is also technically more superior. Almost every scene accentuates the cold, bleak and isolated atmosphere of Hedeby island, and Fincher has an eye for details - like a 'subplot' about a stray cat.
I caught both the R-rated movies in the States and did not have to tolerate censorship cuts. In the 2009 movie, we saw the sexual relationship between Mikael (played by Michael Nyqvist) and his editor Erika Berger (Lena Endre) but here their affair is suggested through body language between Craig and Robin Wright. There are steamy and sexually explicit sequences involving Mara and her guardian (Yorick van Wageningen) and a lurid seduction scene between Blomkvist and Lisbeth that will cement their relationship in the sequels.
I was impressed by Noomi Rapace's portrayal of Lisbeth in the 2009 version but Mara (above) is even better. Like Rapace, she portrays the lesbian and feminist qualities of Lisbeth well enough but Mara exudes a sensual charm that is both captivating and awe-inspiring. With her lithe figure in black leather jacket and on motorbike, she comes across like a panther on the prowl. Craig sometimes appears like her sidekick. Now that I have seen Mara in action, I can understand why she is nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. The rest of the cast are solid too, with Stellan Skarsgard standing out as the enigmatic Martin Vanger.
THE LOWDOWN: A powerful and engaging detective thriller.