Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

When the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo came out in December 2011, many people (including Neils Arden Oplev, who directed the first adaptation of the book) commented on how David Fincher’s version was useless. Some felt that it demonstrated Hollywood’s need to assert its supremacy by throwing a $90 million remake in the field while the 2009 Swedish version was perfectly fine.


Truth is, the combination between Fincher’s style and the book’s plot is a match made in heaven and it would have been a pity not to let it unfold. Dear Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, welcome to the pantheon of pop culture. It feels as if you always belonged here.

As those who have not read the books may not already know, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is about Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a Swedish journalist who works for Millenium Magazine and has just lost a libel case. It is also a lot about Lisbeth Salander, a hacker/private investigator who has been declared legally incompetent and suffers several assaults from her perverted legal guardian. Blomkvist and Lisbeth are brought together when Henrik Vanger asks the former to investigate the case of his grandniece, who disappeared forty years earlier.

From the first few seconds of the movie, you know it is going to be a case of “love it or hate it”, and you also which side you are going to stand on. The opening credits act like a prediction of everything there is to see in the movie: fire, cars, oil, motorbikes, dragons, bondage, violence, and intensity. The soundtrack, a remake (oh, the irony) of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant song by Karen O, Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor (yes, the Nine Inch Nails guy) is appropriate, to say the least.

Because of the original plot and of Fincher’s voyeuristic style, some scenes are gruesome and barely bearable to watch. Yes, you may feel the need to hide your eyes and block your ears.  By the way, finishing that bag of Jelly Babies during the previews may be a good thing for once – chances are you won’t feel very hungry anymore during the rest of the film. In the UK, the whole thing is rated -18. In France, it is only -12. Can someone please explain that? If you had shown this movie to me when I was 12, I would have become a sociopath (well, maybe we know how it all started for Lisbeth after all).

If you have not read the book, you may need to check the film’s Wikipedia page when coming back from the showing to understand every single detail. You may also feel the need to book a plane ticket to Sweden immediately, as Fincher does a wonderful job at depicting the country’s beauty (and the fact that it is fiercely cold).

So, yes, maybe this film is an outrage to underground culture. But everytime I think about it, all I can think of is this:  when Fincher shows me snow on a screen, he manages to make me shiver.

Movie posters from IMDb’s website: 2011 version and 2009 version

Opening sequence taken from movieclipsTRAILERS’ Youtube channel.

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