Director: David Fincher
Writer: Steven Zaillian (Screenplay), Stieg Larsson (Novel)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard
Facing a libel charge in what has become to be known as the Wennerstrom Affair, disgraced financial jounalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by former industrial head Henrik Vanger to search for the killer of his long lost niece who mysteriously disappeared more than 40 years ago.
First off, to any of you who despise Hollywood for remaking foreign films, the remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo stands as a prime example of why one should keep an open mind when it comes to cinema. All people tend to do is hear the title of a project and quickly dismiss it out of prejudice and bias/favour towards the original. What those same people fail to do is take into account of who is involved with the project, and not take an objective look at the remake or its original counterpart. Because of that, those very same people will miss out on what is a much more superior remake in this David Fincher helmed film, which is more of a faithful and true adaptation than a remake.
Not only is this film superior to the original in almost every way possible, it also stands out as one of the year’s best films. The very instance that David Fincher was announced as the director for this film, all doubt in my mind vanished as I knew this was sure to be a great film. Once again, David Fincher directs an astounding film and draws out so much material from the novel at such a great pace. Though some audience members may feel a bit irked by the quick cut-pace at the beginning, it’s fine in the grand scheme of things as he quickly sets up the foundation of the story.
The only other problem audiences may have is the split attention between the characters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander in the first half of the film as they eagerly await the meeting and collaboration between one another. Though it doesn’t help the overall plot and storytelling of this film, it is a necessary step in establishing the events further down the line and the manner in which it is portrayed. Fincher’s version is much more faithful to the novel than the Swedish film.
Speaking of Lisbeth Salander, Rooney Mara gives an amazing performance in her portrayal of the incredibly written character. Though purists may detest the decision of Mara as Lisbeth solely for her body type not matching Lisbeth in the novel, she gives as great a performance as Noomi Rapace, if not better in the Fincher version. This is due to the fact that Steven Zaillian wrote a more consistent Lisbeth character for the film than his Swedish counterpart. Seeing Lisbeth’s transformation as a character has such a great payout for this film’s ending. It really comes off as a bit heartbreaking for Lisbeth, which is something Noomi Rapace was unable to do in the Swedish film due to that film’s changes from the source material.
Although Lisbeth steals the attention of audiences whenever she appears on screen, Daniel Craig give as good a performance. Knowing first hand how his character is in the novels, Daniel Craig comes off as a really convincing Blomkvist. He suits the look and his performance was much better than Michael Nyqvist. However, what really sells his performance in the film is how he and Rooney Mara are able to play off each other. I just never felt the connection between Nyqvist and Rapace compared to the connection between Craig and Mara.
Acting and directing aside, the musical soundtrack composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is bar far one of the year’s best film soundtracks as it perfectly sets the atmosphere and mood for the movie. This is the second collaboration between Fincher and Reznor; they’re quickly becoming a dynamic duo for dark films. I’d love to see them continue working together on future projects once they finish the Millennium Trilogy.
Now you can’t talk about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo without mentioning its rape scene. It’s the most crucial point that sets up the events for the next two books/films and I felt it was handled fairly well. It isn’t too graphic to the point where it would come off as pornographic, yet much like the Swedish version I felt it lacked the emotional impact that I’m supposed to feel. Yes, Lisbeth gets beaten, strangled and raped, but it never got to the point where it made me truly feel hate for Nils Bjurmann. Because of that, the payoff for her revenge didn’t resonate in me as much as I would’ve wanted it to.
There really isn’t a lot left to say about this amazing film. Fincher’s version does get to wrap up every aspect of this story including the Wennestrom Affair, which was only lightly touched upon in the Swedish version. Wrapping up the Wennerstrom Affair does a lot more justice to Blomkvist’s character because it provides closure to his motivations for taking up Henrik Vanger’s job, which is something that was never sold to me with Nyqvist’s Blomkvist.
Overall, this is one of the year’s best films and is a must watch, especially for those who are fans of the Stieg Larsson novels.
GO Rating: 4.5/5
And the best of the two is without a doubt David Fincher’s adaptation.