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March 3, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher has always had a flair for rendering human darkness in a way that is compelling. His films pulse with a visceral energy, whilst also managing to provide a probing exploration of the sinister elements of society. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a continuation of that trend. Unfortunately, whilst thrilling it fails to reach the same heights as his other works.

Based on the bestselling book, the film follows Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as they attempt to solve a forty-year-old murder mystery. Fincher’s adept cinematography skillfully manipulates our perception of the surroundings. Grime and darkness pervade every shot, generating a chilling atmosphere that drowns out the natural beauty of the landscapes. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ haunting score complements the imagery and infuses scenes with tension. The result is a film which is fraught with sinister undertones, making it all the more enthralling.

Coupled with Fincher’s accomplished direction is the astounding performance of new-comer Rooney Mara. Her stark portrayal reveals Salander to be a vulnerable victim, battered by society. Mara imbues the character with a subtle warmness that allows us to glimpse a human centre underneath the hard exterior. The rest of the cast fares well enough, but pales in comparison.

However, whilst the film may be aesthetically accomplished, its thematic aspirations fall flat. Effective characterisation is replaced by blunt exposition-laden dialogue, making the villains feel like two-dimensional constructs. Additionally misogyny is often confused for feminism, generating some morally-dubious ideas. These faults lie more with the script, whilst Fincher does his best to mould irritatingly unsubtle material into something more elegant.

Despite this The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is still an exceptionally well crafted film. Fincher continues to skillfully cast his discerning eye over human ills. It’s just a pity that beyond the shiny veneer the film has relatively little substance.


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  1. Michell. says:

    Agree about the two dimensional villains. Rooney Mara made this film. Daniel Craig as Blomkvist wasn’t too bad either. Some of the changes made from the book-screen was annoying. (that’s the case with almost every film adaptation of a book, I suppose)

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