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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A 2011 movie directed by David Fincher.

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I could use a Happy Meal

  • Mar 1, 2013
I'm finally tackling it.

When I got the invite to come to this site almost 4 years ago, there was one topic that dominated my emails about updates on Lunch, and that was this subject:  I don't remember exactly if it was the Swedish films that people were talking about or if it was the novels published after the Author's death but one this was certain:  Whatever this movie or book was about, with a name that could be a James Bond title for a movie: this was a big deal and catching waves.  So almost 4 years later-I'm late for the party and I'm talking about an American adaption to the product.  Being directed by David Fincher, I can only imagine that it will be filmed in nausea-vision as well.

The first thing I wanted to know is what is this about actually other then a girl and her tattoo.  When I did some digging I heard it was a mundane story on the surface:  Man and woman solve a mystery together.  Some more digging I heard about the character of Lisbeth, the eponymous girl who the movie gets it's title from and how awesome she is, okay...but finally one thing people clued me in on was how the story takes place in Sweden.

Really, thats a big deal?  Land of ABBA, Ann-Margaret, Max Von Sydow....what gives what is the big deal as to why it's good with all due respect?

Well I guess when it comes to what the story is about, murder and rape and nazis which are things that you don't think of normally with that wee land up north in Europe.

So we have a murder mystery with a cool female lead in a land where you normally don't think of hard crimes being committed.....honestly it's not grabbing me that much and when I finally watched it wasn't so much the story that I was wrapped up in it was our lead.

Lisbeth Salander (The Girl) is quite honestly one of the greatest female heroines to come along in a long time.  Cool and tough but certainly flawed and far from unbeatable but full of emotion underneath her detached and disassociated look on life and interaction with others.  Much like the Joker in The Dark Knight, you wait through the movie, especially early on to see Lisbeth and what she would do next just knowing it would be awesome-and while not always pretty you root for her just the same.

Having said that, the movie-a lengthy one at that spends very little time with Lisbeth other then setting up who she is.  Her attitude, people she deals with and her job.  Most of the first act deals with Mikael-a magazine owner who just got slammed with a libel claim by a corporate head who Mikael thought he had dirt on.  With his career seemingly over, a retired businessman Henrik Vanger offers Mikael an assignment while things die down in Mikael's professional life-he is to investigate the dissapearance of Henrik's niece Harriet who went missing nearly 40 years ago and Henrik thinks foul play on his foul family was involved.  Many in the Vanger family don't talk to each other and a couple are former Nazis and violent drunks.

As Mikael works on starting the task of investigating Harriet's disappearance, the film cuts in at regular intervals to Lisbeth, a tattooed young waif who lives on junk food (McDonalds in particular) and supports herself with a job at an investigative firm.  WIth photographic memory and determination, she excels at her job but the state has declared her insane for her past troubles and she is assigned a ward to look after her.  After the ward falls ill, a new one steps into her life and at first seems harmless but turns out to be a monster with him taking control of her funds being the least of Lisbeths troubles.  Outsmarting him and also enacting revenge on him in a phenominal scene that I can't spoil here, Lisbeth is able to move on in her life-until Mikael contacts her needing help in the investigation of Harriet-and hearing of Harriet and the Vanger famile's past stories of evil, Lisbeth decides to lend Mikael a hand.  She knows Mikael and can trust him-cause afterall her last assignment was investigating him during Mikael's charges of libel from earlier in the film.

So sets into motion after a lengthy set up the rest of what is admitedly a lengthy movie.  There are some issues that will irk some in that the Bible comes into play with the dissapearance which will be nothing new to many.  The movie way too many times pours over the same photographs over and over again with a case of ennui and you gotta pay attention to the little details that the film wants to point out in triggering the events that lead Mikael and Lisbeth along the way.  Finally when a culprit is revealed, theres a whole final act that follows the film to close out the hanging threads.  When the scenes are not devoted to looking at articles and old photos and "old junk" as one character points out, for the research, the movie does have plenty of moments that keep moving and like I said before when Lisbeth is on the screen, you definitely start paying attention.

One other note to bring up.  The movie is not for a casual watcher just thinking this is a run of the mill drama movie.  The movie is noted for it's two torture scenes and two rape scenes, one far more graphic then the other on top of the stories of the nazi families, they're stories of abuse and more.  Throw in some sex scenes and the movie is rated R for a reason.

The best thing about the movie however is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth.  An awesome character is brought to life by an actress who threw herself into the role completely to get it just right and if it came down to it, I'd have to go with Rooney as my favorite Lisbeth over the original Noomi Rapace, who is certainly no slouch, but was made to be too fierce and even glamorous.  Rooney appears far more normal as far as appearances go and even more human instead of a force of nature.  Either one will split you're lip if you gave them sass, but I thought that this version is a little more grounded, this is especially true after a key scene in the movie.

The rest of the cast is good too.  Daniel Craig steps away from James Bond a bit to be Mikael, a man who has no problem with an affair or two but is by no means a tough guy.  Christopher Plummer is still awesome as ever as the creaking Henrik Vanger and the normally scene chewing Steven Berkoff as Frode the Vanger family lawyer is subdued and cool for his handful of scenes.  Robin Wright as the editor turned cheif of Mikael's magazine is a nice addition to the cast and Stellan Skarsgard as the only other member of the Vanger family that Mikael who isn't immediately hostile towards. 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo I can't say completely lived up to it's hype.  While I did find it slow and steady, it certainly was different once the film got going, gave me a new film character to cherish and love not to mention at least got me clued into something that was the talk of the town, even at one time.  The fires have died down a bit on this one but if you're brave to tackle the subject matter, you will be rewarded.  Maybe with a nice leather jacket just lying around.
Nazis, Rape, Torture and Happy Meals. Nazis, Rape, Torture and Happy Meals. Nazis, Rape, Torture and Happy Meals. I could use a Happy Meal

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March 04, 2013
I became a Rooney Mara fan after this movie that I even saw her recent flick.
March 04, 2013
I think a lot of people did and I'm included. I know shes in that illness movie or whatever it's called and I might consider seeing it, but not before seeing Dead Man Down, which strangely has Noomi Rapace in it.
March 04, 2013
Mara is also in that movie SIDE EFFECTS which I liked. You know she is Kate Mara's sister right?
March 04, 2013
Thats the movie I was thinking of. I know she has a sister Kate but nothing's coming to mind of what she has been in that I might have seen. I'm just hoping that we do get the other two movies and that the cast stays together.
More The Girl with the Dragon Tatto... reviews
review by . December 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
David Fincher's Stylish, Dark, Sexier
When I first heard of the American remake of the Swedish film released in 2009 based on the internationally acclaimed novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (original title “The Man Who Hate Women”), I have to admit I wasn’t too excited; that is until I learned that director David Fincher would be at its helm. Fincher is a director whose works I liked from “Se7en”, “Fight Club” and even “The Zodiac”. The film is more of a re-interpretation …
review by . August 27, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Revenge is better when served cold.
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," was one of the most suspenseful novels that I've had the pleasure of reading.      I had also seen the original movie with subtitles and enjoyed that also.      With the 2011 film, directed by David Fincher, I have, once again, been greatly entertained.      The story is based on a Swedish journalist, Mikael Blomkvist suffering a legal defeat on a case where he is accused of slander.   …
review by . December 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Very Dark, Brutal, and Gripping Film.
Following the very successful adaptation of Stieg Larssons millennium trilogy into three very successful Swedish language films, it came as no surprise when Hollywood announced that it would be making an English-language version of the series. Director David Fincher was announced to craft the first book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The new version follows very close to the original material with one fairly big exception which I will detail later in the review. Daniel Craig stars …
review by . July 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    By now, we all know the story. Corrupt Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) - having just lost a libel case against the billionaire Hans-Erik Wennerstrom - accepts a job given to him by the affluent Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to re-open and solve a 40-year old case involving the old man's niece Harriet, who went missing all those years ago at an annual family gathering and as of now is still considered murdered, although there doesn't …
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Watching the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was actively engaged with its dual storylines, but I also found myself pondering which of the two was the more important. Now that David Fincher has made an English-language remake, I find myself pondering what went wrong. Here is a mystery thriller so cold, so distant, and so lacking in energy that it feels neither mysterious nor thrilling. It follows the plot of the original …
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Dragon Tattoo Take 2
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Written by Steve Zaillian Directed by David Fincher Starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard   Armansky: I’m concerned you won’t like her. She’s different. Frode: In what way? Armansky: In every way.   I always say that film criticism is an inherently subjective practice and reviewing David Fincher’s remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the perfect example to prove this. It has …
review by . January 08, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
If there were an award for most unsettling film of 2011 or best use of black eye-liner, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be a shoe-in. That’s not to say it isn’t a good movie, in fact it’s brilliant. It’s gorgeously shot, beautifully paced, has a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Rooney Mara and strings you along for one of the best mysteries I’ve ever tagged along for. That being said, it’s still one of the darkest, most mature films …
review by . January 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
      Fincher's dark and mute direction in his retake of Stieg Larssen's trilogy-novel was somehow expected but I never thought it will turn out to be so haunting and fresh. Spectacular technical detail, from beginning to the very end. A charismatic and harsh sample of great journalism, character study, and thrilling evolution. A variety of dramatic colors and a cold and poisonous atmosphere that made this movie memorable.      The Girl With the Dragon …
review by . January 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
After viewing the fairly well-produced and well-adapted "Girl" trilogy of films (based on the Millennium novels by the late Stieg Larrson) by director Niels Arden Oplev, the question, "Why see yet another version of this same story?" (even if it is done in English, Hollywood style) may just cross one's mind especially in a diminished economy where frugality renders duplication superfluous. However close to the perfection of the author's vision Noomi Rapace's performance might have been, Rooney Mara's …
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It has been tough to escape the Millennium trilogy for the past three years. Author Stieg Larsson left his trilogy unpublished, it wasn’t until after his death that the books hit the shelves and became a worldwide phenomenon. It then became a movie made in Sweden which did not shine away from the darker parts of the story with European audiences unafraid to deal with such issues. When trying to make an American version of the film the studios called on none other than David Fincher who previously …
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #5
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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A murder mystery rife with suspense, scandal, sexual abuse, and some supremely intriguing characters,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoois an excellently crafted film adaptation of Stieg Larsson's equally fascinating book of the same name. Larsson's book was also the basis of a 2009 Swedish film (also with the same title), and while the Swedish film was good, this American version is far superior, thanks to fantastic cinematography and livelier pacing that results in a constant, electric tension that drives every second of the movie. The breathtaking footage of a snowy, remote island in Sweden thoroughly exudes bitter cold, and the attention to the smallest details, like the whistling of the wind through a door left ajar, makes the hairs on the back of viewers' necks absolutely prickle. Like the book, the film is long (158 minutes), there's an abundance of dialogue that is never awkward and always efficient, and there are plenty of false endings. The suspense and the intricacy of the mystery are stellar, and even viewers who know the story well will find themselves sucked into the riddle being investigated by journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). The casting is great, as are the performances of all the key actors, but by far the best thing about this film is Rooney Mara, who is utterly believable as the incredibly strong, extremely disturbed Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist's unlikely assistant. Mara's performance is chillingly real and completely ...
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Director: David Fincher
Release Date: December 20, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Mar. 20, 2012
Runtime: 158 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
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