The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Based on the first of the best selling books by Swedish writer Steig Larssen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the second on screen interpretation of this hugely popular crime drama.
This version, directed by The Black Dahlia’s David Fincher is the first adaptation to be told in English, rather than the book’s original language, Swedish. It is difficult therefore not to make comparisons between this movie and its predecessor; doing so is only to the movie’s detriment however as despite its success The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo pales in comparison to the original movie adaptation.
This version does have its qualities and strengths, it is brilliantly acted, starring James Bond himself (Daniel Craig) and Rooney Mara in the two leading roles, Craig is enigmatic as always whilst Mara plays the dark and troubled Lisbeth with both poise and attitude. The story is hardly one for the easily upset as it deals with a number of shocking and disturbing issues, yet they too are handled with a straight forward approach that will spare the sensitivities of some of the more fragile members of the audience.
All of this also works against the film however, there is something about it that feels distinctly “Hollywood”, where even the darkest scenes are dealt with a sharp edged certainty and clear direction that leaves the movie lacking the brutal depth and realism that was so effective in the original. The most unpleasant moments are viewed at a slight distance, with a easily definable edge that allows the audience to view such horrors within the safety of their own consciousness’; where what the narrative really called for was a painful and gritty realism, an almost uncomfortable closeness which leaves you feeling defiled and angry and afraid just as Lisbeth or Anita Vanger (Joely Richardson) do as their tales unfold on screen.
For those interested in this highly popular series but unwilling to dedicate themselves to reading the book or watching the original subtitled movie then The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an adequate alternative which gives you enough of the feel and plot of the story for you to feel satisfied in that respect, do not however expect to truly understand the allure of the trilogy simply from watching this adaptation. Thankfully the release of this film has inspired many to read the books for themselves, be warned however that if you then go on to watch Fincher’s probably follow up you are likely to view it through changed eyes.