Monday, December 26

REVIEW: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

(out of 4 stars)

Directed by David Fincher
2 hours 38 minutes
From Columbia Pictures & MGM

Daniel Craig
Rooney Mara
Christopher Plummer
Stellan Skarsgard
Steven Berkoff
Robin Wright
Yorick van Wageningen
Joely Richardson
Goran Visnjic

Maybe if I had read the book(s).  Maybe if I had seen the Swedish film versions.  Maybe I would have been as swept away by this film as so many seem to be or think they’ll be.  But of course reading the book first often leaves a bad taste for the film.  God knows I love movies, but so often they don’t measure up to a great book.  I am curious what the fans of Stieg Larsson’s
book(s) will think of this film.

Films are often restricted by their time frames.  You can only tell so much in an hour and 45 minutes or two hours or even longer while a book seems virtually limitless in its scope to tell the story.  Sometimes a movie is done differently from a book for clarity purposes; sometimes things are scaled down.  I am reminded of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, both the book and the film.  In the book and in real life, there were four trials and in the film there was just one.  Some people see the film and don’t like that at all, but we might have wanted to gouge our eyes out watching four trials in a film when a condensed version works quite well.

So my approach here is a fresh one and by and large I found this film a bit dreary and bloated and murky.  You know what?  I don’t much care for those things in my movies.   They all make me antsy in my seat and of course at this length maybe I was a little more so.  There seemed to me about 20 too-long minutes at the beginning for some backstory but mainly seemed like an opportunity to establish the title star's credentials as a badass.  I thought it took too long to get to the main story.

Briefly this is about a male journalist who enlists the assistance of a female computer hacker to solve a 40-year old disappearance of a young woman from a large, wealthy and generally disagreeable Swedish family.  How that’s done, what obstacles appear in the way… well, a reviewer’s job is not to tell the whole story with spoiler alerts all along the way.

There was way too much viewing computer screens and all the graphics and looking over a character’s shoulders at newspapers and examining photographs.  This aspect might have worked better if we, as the audience, knew something that they, the characters, didn’t know.  We would have been in on it and we get our kicks from watching the characters go through bits and pieces of evidence to resolve it.  But not everything is written that way nor does it need to be.  But when we are in the dark along with the protagonist, then looking at a bunch of computer screens over and over and over again is just plain dull.

Now here’s the good part.  The two lead actors are dynamite.  There was a long line, I hear, to play the title character, and I value that this is a dream role for an actress.  There haven’t been too many roles like this one.  It will put the little-known Rooney Mara on the map and she is exceptional.  She worked for director David Fincher before in The Social Network so they undoubtedly had all their ducks in a row this time out.  It shows.  Her general looks, facial ornaments and goth wardrobe are bound to draw some attention. 

I have seen Daniel Craig in most everything he has ever done.  I think he first got my undivided attention as poet Ted Hughes in Sylvia and then as killer Perry Smith in Infamous.  Then I went back and looked at older work.  And I’ve caught everything since.  I think he is either the best James Bond ever or in a tie for best.  He has an edginess to his acting that no doubt led producers to think of him for this edgy film.  If Craig is in it, I want to see it

Let’s end with another happy note.  The opening sequences over the cast and credits were dazzling.  Be in your seat.

NEXT POST:   In Character


  1. I have read all 3 books which are fabulous! If you see the movie(s) without reading the books, you will probably be a bit lost. Yes they put alot into 2 hours+ of film. I LOVED the Swedish versions even with subtitles. Storyline followed the book(s) and the actors are wonderful. Probably won't see the American version, no desire to. Love your blog BC!

  2. I loved the Swedish films and I am looking forward to seeing this one as well. I am wondering that if this film doesn't do well if they will make the others in the series. I'll have to see this to make a judgment for myself, but thanks for the review.