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Posted on 3/25/13 02:47 PM
Here is one of those movies that for a time you don't how to judge exactly. A movie whose length problems might be so excessive you completely forget of anything remarkable the movie might have had after it's finished because it has no concerns whatsoever for its pace. Like with ''Inglourious Basterds'', you start recapitulating after a few minutes. Then you realize that what you saw was actually pretty good stuff.
David Fincher's breathtaking adaptation of Stieg Larsson's bestseller ''The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'' is better than the Swedish adaptation for two reasons. One: it is loyal to the book. By this I don't mean that it follows storyline and plot details as closest to the book as possible (and it does). What I mean is that the film manages to capture the crude neo-noir atmosphere of its original source, which is something the production crew of the Swedish version never bothered to do. The Fincher version's masterful photography is the film's heart and soul through which it transmits the obscure delicacy of the plot as vivid as in Larsson's written pages. Instead, the Swedish version is a cheesy drama that hardly accomplishes the subtlety and intensity of the story, not bothering to be believable or even transcending a TV-film stage. Second: the characters are absolutely those from the novel. For similar reasons, the Swedish film's cast took rather too much liberties on how to portray those characters. Regardless that they were all thoroughly defined in the novel, the Swedish film presents merely a group of indistinct people whose only sharing with the original characters are their names. In the Fincher film, you recognize each and every one of those characters as soon as you see them. As a result, not having read the book is not a problem to understanding the characters, for they ARE the ones Larsson wrote. Daniel Craig is the live embodiement of Mikael Blomkvist. What to say of Rooney Mara's Lisbeth? She will leave you breathless in every way. Stellan Skarsgard's Martin Vanger is one of the better accomplished characters from the book, and in this film, his prominence is just as equal. Unfortunately, some of the secondary characters, like Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) are underused in the film, even though their relevance in the novel is crucial.
Unlike in the Swedish film, screenwriter Steven Zaillian doesn't change the novel's crucial story elements for the film to be shorter, but polishes some secondary key elements to allow the storyline to flow and grow better and darker. If anything, the film just handles its first hour in a very hard way to keep up with. That's because the Vanger mystery itself is the most interesting portion, but it switches inconsistently between it and Lisbeth's dealings that you can't help but get lost into two immensely appealing scenarios. The fact that the movie then goes back to Mikael's libeling accusation may be a bit of a letdown after it has resolved the Vanger matter. Perhaps in a extended cut, Fincher could have put all this stuff together and it wouldn't be as overwhelming. Here, however, it's just distracting, and each storyline topples the other at some point. Another disappointment came with the musc. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross might think they are doing a great job by making all those annoying sounds intending to create a tense atmosphere throughout the picture. Truth is, they don't. There is no music in this other than the energetic cover of Led Zeppelin's ''Immigrant Song'' at the beginning. The score has absolutely no themes of its own and it's just an obnoxious noise you grow tired of really fast. Nonetheless, the film is very well made, and certainly an excellent adaptation of an already difficult novel to film.
As to the film's controversy regarding explicit rape scenes, I go with my previous statement once again. The film is only being loyal to the book by explaining Libseth's reasons to be a social pariah. Needless to say, Fincher's cinematography is so masterful that it allows to tell the audience the rawest and most outrageous part of the event without depicting much of the event itself. Nils Bjurman anally raping Lisbeth Salander could have been as traumatizing a scene as the sodomy of Marsellus Wallace was in ''Pulp Fiction'', but it wasn't due to the resolute skill of Fincher in depicting rape as an attroxious circumstance and not trying to take joy from it. This is a film that makes a good depiction of sadism, being able to tell its spectator the horrors of sadism without being too much explicit on the subject. This is something it also shares with the novel in distinction with the Swedish film.
As with ''The Social Network'', David Fincher has accomplished a magnificent film in ''The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'', sharing with the former a talented cast, a solid screenplay, a gruesome tale, and a brilliant cinematography.