The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a new US film adaptation of that Stieg Larsson book everyone was reading on the tube, is here. But this is no quickie cash-grab; they’ve roped in director David Fincher to do a proper job of the Swedish misery. He’s accompanied by his The Social Network composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, to make it sound as desolate as possible.
So can they do justice to that 500 page wedge of torture, rape and murder? Or will it be unhappiness without merit?
The Cuts To The Millennium
Despite all the other elements left around to distract us – cool computer hacking, detailed corporate intrigue, lashings of misogynist abuse – the novel was a locked-room mystery at its heart, albeit using an inescapable island rather than a closed door. Fincher’s movie trims down a lot of the trappings, especially the Millennium magazine stuff at the beginning and end, making that basic framework even clearer.
This does make for a more straight, powered narrative. We’re into the mystery within minutes of the film starting, with only the occasional dalliance with eponymous Girl Lisbeth Salander to distract us. I guess cutting her subplot out wasn’t really an option.
The Girl Who Steals The Movie
If there’s one big beneficiary from this movie, I think it’ll be Rooney Mara from that part. She’s excellent, charismatic, managing the character’s moments of vulnerability without losing her fundamental awesomeness. During the first half of the movie, her scenes have much of the energy; if anything, they make Daniel Craig wandering around an island seem quite humdrum in comparison.
Not that the island mystery subplot is boring, it’s just a lot less kinetic than the Stockholm scenes, and I’m sure that’s intentional. That character’s haunted wander before he meets Salander makes the latter half more exciting and vital. Speaking of Daniel Craig’s confusion, he appears to be the only actor not attempting a vague Swedish accent, which is odd.
The Question Of Your Mother
All of which is nicely backdropped by Reznor and Ross’s swirling music, especially in the more intense scenes. The sound isn’t as front and centre as it was in the Social Network though, which makes it odd that the 39 track soundtrack is longer than the film itself.
Of course, this was advertised as “THE FEEL BAD MOVIE OF THE HOLIDAYS”, so I’ll finish on the ultimate question: Will it depress the hell out of your family on Boxing Day? Well, there are unpleasant sexual abuse scenes, I won’t be watching this with my mother, but the overall tone isn’t too bad, to be honest. Nothing much more awful than one of the more gruesome BBC crime dramas. Still, if you want light relief, see Sherlock Holmes 2 instead.
And as an overall package, well, I’m not sure it came together as beautifully as The Social Network, it won’t make you think for hours afterwards, but then again, I am a huge Aaron Sorkin fan. As straight murder mysteries go, this has great execution (pun intended) and the atmosphere is flawless. Definitely worth seeing.