Movie Review: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel December 25, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (featuring) The Ultimate Badass Chick of the Year.

I honestly had my doubts about the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Hollywood movies tend to filter stories that are filled with cultural taboos and not fully relatable characters. This movie has both…and then some. For those of you who haven’t indulged in the amazing Millenium book trilogy by Stieg Larsson or seen the Swedish films this movie is essentially about an intelligent girl with a horrible past who is so sly and brilliant with computers that she works for a private investigating company. She has very little social skills (to put it nicely) but her intelligence, independence, and superior memory are what keeps her hired, and what keeps the audience interested.

Lisbeth Salander is this girl. She rocks the hardcore Euro-trash style and is able to brutally take care of any attacker who harms her. Honestly, even though she’s pretty anti-social she makes a better role model than Bella Swan from the infamous Twilight series ever will be. Lisbeth is bold, brilliant, and her own woman.

This will make Rooney Mara (who plays Lisbeth) a star. She embodies Lisbeth effortlessly, plus her willingness to get all of those piercings (even a nipple piercing) shows how committed she is to this role, that is so important to many fans around the world. And her chemistry with the much older investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) seems authentic and not in the least creepy, mainly because Lisbeth takes charge.

Speaking of “taking charge” this movie is definitely not for those faint of heart. It is absolutely brilliant, but even director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) has said the Academy probably won’t nominate them because of “too much anal.” Yes. And none of the character’s ever make the choice for it to happen. Even though this is obviously horrific subject matter I am so glad David Fincher did not shy away from showing so much. It is important to the character and the story, and watering that down would’ve done the author of the books and the story so much injustice.

The first part of the trilogy spends time getting to know the two protagonists and then digs deep into a very intriguing mystery, one involving a serial murderer within a family. Mikael and Lisbeth team up to investigate the family and find out the truth the police haven’t found for 40 years. This part ends up being a fairly standard detective who-dunit but where this leads in the later part of the series is utterly fantastic and certainly not that conventional.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a running time of 158 minutes but it definitely doesn’t feel that long. Everything within the movie serves a purpose. The books are pretty hefty and staying true for the most part to the original, now-classic novels is important. David Fincher’s slick directing and flawless editing make the movie a breeze to sit through, not a chore.

Lisbeth Salander’s edgy style has even inspired an entire clothing line at H&M. This movie is the next big franchise and is one that completely deserves all of the attention it gets. Female roles that aren’t girlfriends, or wives, or the crazy chick who whines why she can’t find love are so rare. Rooney Mara, an uber-talented relative newcomer is very lucky to have snagged such a winning, intriguing role. Daniel Craig on the other hand has certainly done better. He is good in the role of Mikael Blomkvist, but nothing spectacular. There is really nothing to even say about his performance. It’s not that it was bad, simply not memorable.

He makes this face a lot

His Swedish accent was barely noticeable, but perhaps that it better than having a terrible accent. Since the story takes place in Sweden all of the actors had to learn this not-often heard accent. Rooney Mara perfects it. I cannot get over how stunning her performance is. Going from the girlfriend of Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network to this shows off her versatility as an actor.

Overall, this is definitely one of my favourite movies of 2011. There was so much hype built around it that I was a little cautious about it not living up to it, but it most certainly did. What made it such a great film was Rooney Mara’s performance, the slick directing, the badass soundtrack from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (with the one of the best covers I have heard of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song sung by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s) and of course the really cool story brought to us by the late Stieg Larsson. He unfortunately never got to see what a huge success his stories became and how much adulation he has received for creating a character women can be proud about.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Rachel Ganzewinkel

Rachel loves movies and writing and has found the perfect amalgamation in writing movie reviews for We Eat Films. In between movie watching and the real-life world of work, she enjoys tea, reading, writing, and wearing over-size sweaters (while occassionally doing some of these simultaneously).

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