Romy Shiller

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Or, Cross Me and I’ll Kick Your Ass

In Film, review on January 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde


[Warning: Spoilers]

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.


Director: David Fincher

Writers: Steven Zaillian (screenplay), Stieg Larsson (novel)

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer


I will just get this out of the way. I saw the Swedish version of this American remake and expected the Swedish version to be better. It wasn’t. [has given The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo a very serious software and operating system upgrade. This new English-language remake, – based on Stieg Larsson’s bestselling crime novel – is sleeker, smoother, sexier than its Swedish predecessors. It is a muscular, overwhelmingly confident movie – and its brutal violence is thus even tougher to take.

The first thing that caught my attention was the opening credit sequence: a Bondish, nightmarish, amorphous vision in liquid monochrome, with an eardrum-frazzling score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The Social Network was very much an education from start to finish,” says Reznor. “It was tricky because it involved mainly people in rooms bitching at each other; it didn’t seem obvious what role music would play. This film felt a bit more like: ‘Ah, serial killers and anal raping, I know what that sounds like. It’s not as much of a stretch …’ Let me rephrase that — a dark tone felt more familiar.”  

The Swedish accents – they were well done by all. The costumes were fabulous. The look of the whole picture was dark and the winter setting felt dank and unforgiving. It felt more Swedish than Swedish. What I have noticed about the Swedish films that I have seen is that they are uncompromising, brutal and very deep. This film seems to have matched the formula. Lisbeth was actually more layered and multi-dimensional here than in the other film.

What I adore about this story is its brutal honesty.

About: Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a disgraced left-wing journalist who is furtively ushered to the cold, desolate island owned by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), aging patriarch of a wealthy family dynasty, to investigate the disappearance and presumed murder of his young niece Harriet, an unsolved crime that has haunted the family for 40 years. As he digs through the tumultuous family history — via decades worth of photos, endless piles of documents, scores of newspaper clippings, and uncomfortable encounters with the surviving members of this disturbingly fractured family – Blomkvist uncovers a string of grisly murders that may include Harriet…and may be linked to one of the unsavoury Vanger family heirs… The titular heroine, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), is slowly woven into the film in short bursts, only taking center stage after the surface plot is laid out in detail. She’s an angry, vicious, isolated computer genius capable of obtaining details about virtually anyone. She is also — in the wake of an enigmatic but clearly tortured past – one who is hell-bent on fighting harsh brutality with even harsher brutality.

A very interesting masquerade takes place. People hide in the “normal.” The girl that is labeled by so-called reputable institutions as insane and stupid is neither. Lisbeth sports tattoos, piercings, wears black clothes and does not in any way buy into the mainstream. She is more honest and moral than the men around her that appear “normal” but who are corrupt, evil and lie. A social-worker, supposed to protect her, rapes her. An apparently upstanding citizen is a murderer who tortures his victims beforehand. The guy she loves cheats on her.

Salander is fuelled by rage, Blomkvist by disappointment. The gulf between the two of them – physical, technological, ideological, generational – gapes so wide that when they are finally brought together, almost half way into Fincher’s bristling, tachycardiac film, the encounter registers with the force of planets colliding. “I like them so much as characters,” he says fondly. “At the end of this movie, I want people to say, ‘I can’t wait to see those two again’.”

Daniel Craig (Blomkvist ) says,  They shouldn’t have a relationship and they shouldn’t even meet in life.  They come from different social classes and whatever.  I think that Salander has never really gotten to trust anyone or there are few people in her life that are straight with her and he is.  He comes in and she has broken the law and has hacked into his life.  He walks in and says, “Forget that.  I think you’re great and I would like to work with you and I’ll walk away.”  I think that this appeals to her. Craig is quite convincing asBlomkvist and brings a pathos to hischaracter.

The rape scene and her revenge make up Lisbeth’s back-story and explain much of her motivation to help solve this case. To research the role of the tattooed Lisbeth, who takes potent revenge on the man who rapes her, Rooney visited a centre for sexually abused women, watched documentaries, read up on rape victims, went to a school for autistic children and learned to ride a motorbike.

David Fincher, notorious for making actors do as many as 100 takes of a scene, mercifully called for only one take of the rape. But one take does not always a rape make. The revenge rape – in which Salander stun-guns her sadistic social worker, ties him to his bed posts, duct tapes his mouth, penetrates him with a large sex toy and tattoos “I am a rapist pig” all over his torso – took three.

Rooney Mara, who completely transforms to play the role of Lisbeth, described the difficulty — and importance — of making the rape scene as true to the book as possible.

“It was incredibly intense. We did it all in a week — the week of Valentine’s Day, oddly enough,” she remembered. “We were working 16 hours a day, and it was really, really challenging, not just emotionally but physically. But it’s such an important scene. We wanted to do everything we could to get that right.”

As the film’s title suggests, the Girl and not Daniel Craig is the star here. Rooney Mara glistens like a sharpened icicle as Lisbeth Salande,…

Critic J. Hoberman from the Village Voice says, An altogether leaner, meaner, more high-powered, stylish, and deftly directed affair… It is worth seeing and extremely good.