Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

It’s hard enough evaluating a film after you have read the book. If you have both read the book and seen an earlier version of the film (in the book’s original language), which also happened to be one of your favourite films of the previous year, a fair evaluation is almost impossible.

I definitely enjoyed David Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (TGWDT). It was very well made and the acting was as good as it was in the original, with both Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara doing an outstanding job in the lead roles and Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer excellent in major supporting roles. Steven Zaillian did a good job with the screenplay (especially the dialogue). The cinematography was great. I appreciated the film’s dark atmosphere and very adult feel, as is only appropriate in a film like this. If anything, the sex was more graphic than in the Swedish original while the violence was under-played, which was quite unexpected for an American film. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Hollywood (let’s say Fincher) handled this remake of a European film (though I don’t suppose it was based on the film as much as the book). Even the changes to the book were not unwelcome (unlike the masses, I did not think Larsson’s book was particularly well-written).

Nevertheless, Fincher’s version of TGWDT lacked something. Perhaps it was the odd combination of accents (Craig’s was British; others, I assume, were meant to be Swedish). Perhaps it was the hurried feel to the solving of the central mystery. Perhaps it was the lack of real chemistry between the two protagonists, who seemed much more sure of themselves in this version. As a result, I didn’t find myself caring as much about either of them as I did with their counterparts in the original. The entire film felt different than the original, which has its good (e.g. more stylish, polished) and bad points, but the magic that put the original in my top ten last year was not here.

If you want a hint as to what TGWDT is about, I refer you to my review of the original from May, 2010.

Fincher’s TGWDT gets a solid ***+. My mug is up, but I preferred the original.

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