Review: David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (No Spoilers)


I'll admit right up front that I was nervous about how this movie was going to turn out.  I had reasonable suspicion that Daniel Craig would do well as Mikael Blomqvist, but serious trepidations about Rooney Mara's handling of the Lisbeth Salander character.

Those fears were put to rest this evening.  I've just returned home from the movie and it was very well done.  Fincher took a couple of minor liberties with the story, but overall it is faithful to the book – moreso than even the Swedish original.  It's very well shot (the camera work is fantastic), and the stark minimalism in a lot of the scenes is actually quite beautiful.  (It reminded me a lot of the scenes in Fargo.)  They had to have waited for weather in some of the shots because it was obvious that the snow scenes were real and dark and pretty.

The music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is amazing and works with the film throughout.  The music has been out for a bit now, but to actually hear it combined with the film is a different experience and heightens the emotion and impact of the film.  The opening title sequence is very… interesting.  (It seems like it would fit in a Bond film, and that's probably not an accident given Craig plays Bond.)

The acting was superb.  Daniel Craig plays a very believable Mikael Blomqvist, and while it's tough to separate the role from that of the portrayal by Michael Nyqvist, Craig's portrayal is a little less magazine-editor and a little more journalist.  He plays more absorbed that Nyqvist did, though a little less pointed in terms of figuring out what Lisbeth was up to the entire time.

Noomi Rapace (who played Lisbeth in the Swedish version of the movies) is a tough act to follow, but Rooney Mara did extremely well.  She's a little softer than Rapace, but plays the nearly-autistic mostly anti-social character well.  The one advantage her character has in this film that was also in the book (but not so well done in the Swedish version) is the emotional investment toward the end of the movie.  Mara plays that very well and one can see the growth the character is supposed to take as well as the gravitas of the final scene.

The story itself is faithful to the book, and anyone who has read the book and seen the original movies knows that the final scenes are only covered in a cursory fashion in the Swedish movie.  They are included more here in the American version, which is good because it is an important part of the story, especially since it helps set up the second book/movie.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the second movie, but given how the first was done, I'm sure I have nothing to worry about.