Tuesday 27 December 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) - David Fincher

Oh Fincher.  You nearly lost me in the first two minutes.  The opening credits to his film are exceptionally well done - stylish and sexy, yet totally inappropriate.  They may have subtle references to the other novels in the series (hornets and fire), but the sequence feels more like the opening to a Bond film. 

Credits aside, this is an excellent adaptation.  The events of the novel are condensed, more so than Oplev's Swedish film.  The result is a focused narrative, without much of the extraneous material of the novel.  It's still long, but hardly noticeable owing to the compelling plot.  The odd element has been changed, with some added irony to the ending, but it has little impact.  What remains is a tight mystery that remains faithful to the original source. 

Admittedly, we are presented with simply the barebones of the story, which, to an extent, makes Blomkvist's search for the killer seem a little easier than anticipated.  However, it also allows Fincher to flex his artistic muscles.  He excels in his recreation of Sweden.  This is no Hollywood bastardisation.  His cityscapes are foreboding metropolises; his landscapes are frozen in a bleak, perpetual winter.  Even inside the wind howls and rattles the windows.  His use of light is stunning, high contrast informing the whole look of the film.  Each character is dressed in black, in stark contrast to the raging blizzard and cold, minimalist furnishings.  This is paired with an ambient soundtrack more suitable for a horror film.  Yet horrific this film is and Fincher's style heightens the danger for a tense thriller.

The characters, meanwhile, are not so black and white.  Rest assured, the casting is to be applauded, especially the two protagonists.  Daniel Craig may seem an odd choice after his recent turn as Bond, but his Blomkvist balances sex and intelligence.  Of course, the most important character is Lisbeth Salander, the titular girl.  Noomi Rapace has personified Salander in the Swedish films with her calculated malice.  Rooney Mara, however, plays a younger, more innocent girl - making her moments of brutality all the more shocking. 

The film may not be as graphic as its Swedish counterparts, but Fincher's more stylised vision remains a gripping portrayal of sexual violence.  Perhaps those opening credits are appropriate after all?  Moreover, Fincher has proved that remakes are not redundant, despite my own protestations.  After all, a great story, no matter how it is told, remains a great story.