The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 158min – R
This is a very harsh movie. I enjoyed the overall film but I was very disturbed by some of the content. There are scenes in this movie that consist of brutal rape, and some extremely horrific murders. Usually I am not a fan of gratuitousness in film, but in this case the violent acts define the characters and the world they are in. If you go see this, be ready for a film that does not hold back on any of the visceral elements. This is a green light film but consider yourself warned if you go to see it.
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigative journalist and his research assistant Lisbeth Salander (Roomy Mara) are looking into the disappearance of a girl from over 40 years ago. The main story is mesmerizing but the cast of characters is at times hard to keep up with. The investigation surrounds a huge family and you need a program to keep people straight. It helps that Mikael posts pictures of people up on the wall and we can see how they relate to each other. Lisbeth is a strong character not just anyone can bring her to life. Mara does a great job of stepping out of the image of all the other characters she has played.
The story starts out slow but picks up the pace and takes you for an incredible ride. Toward the end it loses its rhythm and it feels like it’s trying to cram in another storyline. It does an adequate job of resolving all of the elements in the film but sacrifices some of the ancillary plot points for the sake of time. The elements that they shorten are done better than the original version. This is a great job of storytelling even with the rushed nature.
This story has started out as book and has been done on film by Niels Arden Oplev in 2009. This version is helmed by David Fincher. Fincher is a really good storyteller, and does not spare the viewer when it comes to telling the hard facts about a story. He also does good job of taking you to horrific scenes but does not delight in it. He is very clinical about the events that he is creating. When I was in the theater I was really angry with the characters but that’s the point. The senses are not glorified in this film they are a part of the story that can’t be ignored.
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There is a very graphic rape scene, even as Lisbeth getsto exact her revenge it’s still very hard to watch. I think it was particularly unsavory because the abuse is by someone who is abusing his authority over the situation. The predator gets his in the end (no pun intended) but I wondered if it was overdone. In retrospect you need to see that to truly define Lisbeth true strength. Yorick van Wageningen played the abuser well and that was hard to see. He was in The Way as a great guy and this role is completely opposite. It’s a testament to his acting ability.
The best part of the film is where the team realizes they are dealing with a serial killer and not just a missing girl. That Oh My God! moment is well played and it’s the part that got me more involved in the story than the backstory of the characters.
One thing this film does better than the first version it deals with the loss of Lisbeth’s first social worker. You can tell there was genuine rapport being built and that loss added on to the fact her next one is an abuser. But they showed us everything and did not just tell us they were close. When we see her waiting with the gift, it tells us everything.
The last moments in the movie where she is starting to come out of her shell and has this imagined relationship building with Mikael. You can see how hurt she was when she realized he did not see their relationship in the same way. That was the saddest part in the film for me. I really feel for her. She is a strong woman character and she does not need anything from anyone. Regardless, I find myself wanting to protect her.
What scene have you found hard to watch but it was necessary for the film?