The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Mara and Fincher elevate a populist novel into a compelling drama of bleakness and corruption
David Fincher directs a version of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy – revenge thrillers don’t come with more high-powered credentials than that. While Steven Zaillian’s script sticks a little too closely to the labyrinthine plotting of the original novel, Fincher amps up the dark poetry of the visuals to create an ugly, modern fable that’s considerably more potent than the Swedish version.
The story is familiar enough by now; ageing patriarch Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to look into the coldest possible case; the disappearance of Vanger’s grand-nice, forty years earlier. Blomkvist travels to the Vanger family residence on an isolated island while computer-hacker Lisabeth Salander (Rooney Mara), forms an uneasy alliance with Blomkvist to solve the mystery.
Breaking from the recent success of The Social Network, with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Fincher has returned to his favoured métier of the serial killer thriller, as explored in Seven and Zodiac. Larsson’s book gives Fincher plenty to feast on, allowing him to create an oppressive atmosphere of violence and latent menace
Despite raising his game from the somewhat taciturn performances in Dream House and Cowboys and Aliens, Daniel Craig takes second place to Rooney Mara, who’s bitter, striking performance is a long way from her girl-next-door in The Social Network. Exuding a barely suppressed rage in every scene, Mara and Fincher elevate a populist novel into a compelling, if overlong drama of bleakness and corruption.