David Fincher did wonders turning nothing into something with THE SOCIAL NETWORK. In many ways he accomplishes many of the same things in his adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO in that the film depicts scenes where people are doing nothing but reading and doing Google searches into something that is oddly compelling. However, as compelling as stuff felt I also couldn’t help but feel somewhat disconnected with the mystery at the heart of the film, but blown away by Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander.
The film is an adaptation of the popular book which is the first of a trilogy and the American remake of the original Swedish film. It stars Daniel Craig as Mikael, a journalist that has been hired to solve a forty year old mystery as to the location of a woman said to have vanished without a trace. Mikael also enlists the skills of a very talented hacker but strange hacker, Lisbeth to help him crack the case.
My first impression of David Fincher’s film is that it’s good looking and interesting but long. Having never read the book I can’t coherently comment on who well it was adapted or if there’s a lot of content that makes the book hard to adapt and that it has to be incredibly long in order to bring the story to life. I will say though that at one point I was getting ready to shut it off because I assumed the credits were about to roll but there ended up being another 20 to 25 minutes left in the movie. I wasn’t necessarily bored during that final 20 minutes but I was indeed ready for the film to end before that point.
Fincher really does have an eye for making extremely boring activities seem exciting on screen. This time around though where I was fully entertained by that fact in THE SOCIAL NETWORK I was a little less impressed during THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO although I still enjoyed watching it. I attribute my slight lack of interest to the fact that for the first half of the movie I just didn’t care about the mystery that Craig’s character is researching and it wasn’t until Lisbeth joined forces with Mikael that it picked up for me. Even with the duo working together I was more connected with their scenes interacting with one another or off doing their own thing than their actual research about the case. When they both finally thought they cracked the case though I finally snapped back in and remembered that there was a reason the two were working together in the first place.
No one really gives a bad performance but Rooney Mara is the only one that really makes a lasting impression. She injects life into each scene she’s in due either to her peculiar personality that comes with the character or her fragile yet aggressive persona. Daniel Craig is decent but he doesn’t quite take his performance to the next level although the character doesn’t really beg him to do so- he does have a few good one liners that gave me a good laugh though.
The score is once again very good by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross although not quite as memorable as their work in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The opening credits are a very nice touch albeit strange transition from the opening scene to the rest of the film, but visually striking and a nice way to get the blood flowing for what’s to come.
As a follow-up to THE SOCIAL NETWORK Fincher continues to put forth great work from challenging material even though I didn’t love THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO quite as much as his tackling of the Facebook saga. Rooney Mara stuns as the peculiar Lisbeth Salander and outshines all of her co-stars- for many scenes I was stuck watching and waiting for her to appear back on screen. My biggest complaint is that I didn’t feel the film did enough to make me care about the mystery the film is built upon and that it eventually stayed passed its welcome. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO however a great looking film that pulls attention in with its strong female lead and the promise of its premise even if it never really lives up to it. It’s a film that could benefit from subsequent viewing where the subtle parts of the mystery a bit easier to spot and connect with when you know what you’re looking for. From the opposite spectrum once you know where it ends some might find revisiting the film a waste of time, but like many films such as SHUTTER ISLAND, once you know how it ends that makes multiple viewing a more fruitful endeavor to pick up intricacies of the plot- not to mention you can appreciate Mara’s performance all over again.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)