Monday, December 26, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Director David Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian adapt an English language version of the acclaimed novel. Having read the book and seen the original Swedish version of the film, it's hard not to think about them while watching this film. If you've never seen the first film, you will have a purer opinion about the acting and how the material is handled.

Mr. Fincher has directed an taut and edgy version of the book. He sets an ominous tone right from the opening credits and as the story unfolds, you find yourself more and more unsettled. This is a story of dark and nasty secrets. The screenplay by Mr. Zaillian edits the book in a very efficient way removing a few unnecessary subplots but otherwise staying true to the novel except for an slightly altered ending. The setting is the same and you can feel the Swedish cold in every scene.

The cast is stellar with Daniel Craig starring as investigative journalist, Mikael Blomkvist along with Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard, Joely Richardson and as the title character, Rooney Mara. Mr. Craig brings full dimension to Blomkvist and Ms. Mara gives a fearless performance in a very difficult role. On her own merit, she captures "Lisbeth Salander" very well. Unfortunately as I mentioned earlier, having seen the original film, I can't help but compare her to Roomi Rapace as "Lisbeth". Ms. Mara, while appearing tough as nails, still has frailty that you never saw in Ms. Rapace. She also brings a bit of dark humor not seen in the Swedish version. Sometimes you identify an actor with a particular role so deeply that you just can't imagine anyone else in the part. For me, Ms. Rapace will always be Lisbeth Salander.

The editing, music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and cinematography are all excellent and help provide the ingredients for Mr. Fincher's vision. I wouldn't call this a remake as much as an alternative version of the same source material. Mr. Fincher makes it his own and I look forward to the next installment in the trilogy.

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