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The Fincher Files: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

IMDB Link: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Steven Zaillian
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
Based on: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Synopsis: 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.

In a large majority of Fincher’s works, I have heavily credited him for his casting. The casting of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander may just end up being one of my favourite casting of his filmography, only behind Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network. She is extraordinary in this, and not just in terms of appearance. The way she delivers the performance, the confidence she has in the role, she is undeniable. She has incredible range, and this role lets her show off all of it and in such a stylish manner.

This is a story that is incredibly well known as a novel, but also from several adaptations on film alongside some discussions of a TV series. This is a story that works wonderfully in an adaptation, having a concise narrative that is made for visual storytelling. Fincher has shown previously that he is able to tell an engaging story from other sources, and this is another example of that.

There are scenes within this film that are so brutal and tough to watch, yet Fincher forces the audience to watch. Particularly with the character of Lisbeth Salander, she goes through a lot within this story, and the pain that she goes through increases. There is one storyline which is heartbreaking to see, as she places herself in a situation that nobody wants to even imagine dealing with. It builds up to a satisfying moment when she gets her comeback, which is also incredibly well told and hard to watch, but makes for some great moments within the film.

This film has a distinct style to it, and I wouldn’t even say that it is the same dark style that Fincher normally goes for. This film feels a little bit slicker, and a little bit more Hollywood in the formula. The production and costume design stand out more than usual, but not to the point of distracting or fake. Instead, it creates an interesting and dark style that fits into the world-building and gives extra personality to the characters and the mystery surrounding the story.

Rooney Mara is the obvious stand-out for this film, but the overall cast does a wonderful job throughout the film. Daniel Craig is also wonderful casting for his role as Mikael Blomkvist, even if he does nothing that is completely different from other roles he has done recently. Christopher Plummer is also a predictable choice for the role that he plays within the film, but it is nice to see him and Craig in a film together of this style and actually getting to act alongside each other.

Craig does a solid job with what he is given, but it is clear to me that his storyline – despite being the main storyline of the film – is not as gripping as when Rooney Mara appears on screen. She capitvates the story completely and my full attention was always on her, leaving the story to drag when she was off-screen for a long amount of time. This does impact the pacing, especially for a film of this length at 158 minutes, and could have done being a bit more concise to keep the narrative flowing naturally.

It is a shame that a sequel was never made out of this film adaptation, because David Fincher did a great job at adapting this one. It is so easy to fall into this world from the production design to the wonderful performances, and it is a different route for Fincher to take with his storytelling. If a sequel or TV series was to be made based on this cast and adaptation, I would be up for giving it a watch for sure.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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