There’s been much dismay over the Hollywood re-make of the Swedish, subtitled movie that was released only 2 years ago. Directed by David Fincher, it doesn’t over-scream Hollywood; it has much more of a European feel to it, for reasons other than it being set in Scandinavia. And whilst, for some, it may seem unnecessarily too soon to re-do, I can only recommend viewing it before you judge in haste. Just in considering it as a standalone movie, in its own right, it is superb.
If you’re unaware of author Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – the first book of his trilogy, Millennium – or you didn’t get a chance to see the 2009 movie, this film noir is about a man called Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigative journalist, who has been hired by an old Swedish industrialist to uncover the mystery of his niece’s disappearance 40 years prior. As part of the investigation Blomkvist hires an atypical investigator – although one of the best in the field – Lisbeth Salander, to help in his hunt for a ‘killer of women.’
Androgynous Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, is the girl with the dragon tattoo. Having experienced a rough life so far, and deemed psychologically unsound, hers is by far the most interesting of characters. Fragile, yet fiery, dependent, yet heroic, her character’s antithesis is one that draws intrigue. She is almost robotic in nature, but beneath the surface you can’t help but sympathise with this child-like woman, yearning to be loved. Somewhat defiantly, maybe, it is possible to identify with Salander, seeing part of yourself in her, regardless of whether you are male or female. Despite various antitheses that cause you to question the character’s stability, Salander takes more of a leading role in the plot than Blomkvist; in terms of input, dedication and risk-taking for the sake of the cause. This may come as a surprise given that Mara is relatively unknown in the film industry compared to her Bond-famous co-star, Craig. But it works.
It is certainly possible to speak of Fincher’s re-make as lurid, for the shock and outrage it induces, sometimes forcing you to avert your eyes from the screen – particularly in its sexually violent explicitness. But, having said that, redemption is celebrated throughout (often with an eye for an eye-type comeuppance). In the use of pure gumption, fighting for rights, and martyrdom for the sake of loyalty and purpose, we see a glimpse Hollywood after all.
Certainly one of the best films I have seen this season, and one that I highly recommend.