Film Reviews

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

By • Dec 30th, 2011 •

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Fincher’s Twilight-like Hollywood heroine is shy and moody. Not the venal, alternate lifestyle lesbian-punk hacker from the beloved book. Anybody else think Mara’s sex scenes with Craig were done by a body double?

No one in Hollywood really cares what the people who saw the original Swedish language film think of the remake. And why should they? The Hollywood studio remake is for the people who read the book and never pay to see a foreign film.

Fifteen million copies of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo were sold in the U.S. alone. There are 62 million copies of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium crime novels.

Niels Arden Oplev’s original film, released in 2009, was the first of three films and remains the all-time box-office smash in Scandinavia, taking over $16 million there. It was released a year later in the UK and US, and performed adequately, grossing £1.5 million and $10.1 million respectively. The budget of the original was $13 million. David Fincher’s remake had a budget of $100 million.

Cutting to the chase, how does the remake size up to the original that starred Noomi Rapace as hacker/investigator Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist?

Well, Daniel Craig – who continues to askew being good-looking and downplaying his sex appeal in films (it must be in his James Bond contract) – is certainly a more visually interesting Blomkvist. But Rooney Mara as Lisbeth?

Fincher has created a franchise star, but what happened to the Lisbeth Salander all those fifteen million U.S. fans made a female icon?

Fincher faithfully follows Oplev’s version scene for scene – until he and his screenwriter clean up and streamline the ending slightly. A quick summary of the plot: Mikael Blomkvist (Craig), co-founder of an investigative magazine, has been found guilty of libeling a top industrialist, Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg). While awaiting incarceration, aging tycoon Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) offers Blomkvist a job writing the Vanger family history.

Vanger really wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his beloved 16-year-old grandniece 40 years ago. Vanger, who believes her killer has been taunting him every year, is more than obsessed, he is creepily obsessed.

In return, Vanger will give Blomkvist financial backing desperately needed by Millennium magazine and deliver the real incriminating evidence of Wennerström’s illegal activities.

Blomkvist has been vetted by a brilliant young sexual anarchist/punk private investigator named Lisbeth Salander (Mara). Surprised that his financial and private life has been so thoroughly and skillfully hacked, he meets with Lisbeth and asks her to help him find a serial killer preying on young women.

A ward of the state and forced into a cruel S&M relationship with her new guardian Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), Lisbeth’s money and freedom are in the hands of this vile predator. Forcing Lisbeth to perform oral sex to get money for food from him, he then anally rapes her.

You would think Lisbeth, whose definitive look clearly identifies her personality, frequents gay bars, and prefers sex with women, would loathe sex with men. But then she meets Blomkvist.

Fincher delivers a Hollywood love story. Lisbeth’s look changes. She becomes softer, less introverted, and her severe haircut miraculously undergoes a transformation.

See what love can do!

Noomi Rapace had a very hard edge to her, which served the character well. She was always angry, bitter, resentful and wary. Mara is just shy and withdrawn. It is Fincher’s mistake, not Mara’s.

Mara is absolutely riveting as Fincher’s creation, but she is not Larsson’s creation.

Rapace was overlooked by Hollywood for the remake. Hollywood likes to create their own stars they can manage – after all, there are two more in The Millennium Trilogy, maybe even a fourth, out there. Larsson, who died in 2004 of a heart attack at age 50, had laid an outline of a total of ten books in the series.


(Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg’s life companion for 30 years, could finish the fourth book, as she was deeply involved in the writing while Stieg was still alive. Following Larsson’s death, all of his assets went to his father and brother, leaving Gabrielsson with no claim to any of the author’s inheritance, resulting in an ongoing ugly legal battle.)

Rapace has gotten the Hollywood plastic surgery/Vogue magazine makeover but the reward for keeping her silence about the TATTOO remake was a tepid role in SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS. It was embarrassing to watch Rapace trapped in a role that permitted her to merely look from Robert Downey Jr to Jude Law and back again. As a prop, Rapace drinks tea or eats in every scene she is in!

Mara is hailed for her one scene in Fincher’s THE SOCIAL NETWORK. I still do not understand how that one scene inspired Fincher to make her his Lisbeth Salander.

Fincher chose wisely, since Mara completely surrenders herself to Fincher. Problem is, Mara is just too beautiful.

And it’s far better to create a star than hire one.

A $100 million budget and a fine supporting cast – especially Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger – Fincher delivers a suitable remake but without a point of view. Screenwriter Steven Zaillian didn’t add much, keeping to the original’s structure scene for scene.

Since Fincher, Mara and Craig have signed on for the Trilogy, what will they do with the third one where Lisbeth spends the entire book in a hospital bed?

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One Response »

  1. She did not use a body Double. If you’d done yer research, you’d known she even went as fat as to pierce her nipple. In an interview she said that the idea of using a body double was never and option I her mind. You also got some plot points wrong.

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