…and David Fincher nailed it!
First of all, I’d like to point out that I do not consider this film to be a remake of the Swedish version, but rather another adaptation of the Millenium books. Both film had a different approach to a subject that worked in different ways. Having been quite surprised and disturbed by the book, I must say the Swedish version disappointed me. It wasn’t bold or edgy enough and although I thought Noomi Rapace’s performance was good, she did not portray the Lisbeth Salander I imagined. Not her fault for not knowing my expectations, I don’t blame her. I also felt that Michael Nyqvist lacked a fair amount of charisma as Mikael Blomkvist. I heard he is quite famous in Sweden, maybe a bit of extra-textual knowledge on my part would have helped… However, in my opinion, the Hollywood reinterpretation hit the nail on the head.
First of all, the rhythm of the film is takes you in from the start. The opening sequence sets the mood with a catchy and fitting industrial soundtrack and the film does not let go from there. Considering that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo follows the story of two people researching stuff in books and archives and computers, it could have been pretty boring. But David Fincher made sure to place the key action scenes in the right places, making for a very entertaining ride.
Furthermore, the focus is not solely on the action, but also on deep characterisation. Granted the relationship between Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and Erika (Robin Wright) could have been more developed. However, his distant relationship with his daughter and Salander’s fight to repress feelings that have harmed her in the past, took part in outlining layered personalities and provided strong bases for future character developments.
One cannot mention the layered characters without looking at the actors. Indeed, Rooney Mara proved that she is an extremely brave and talented actress in her portrayal of Salander. She demonstrated a strong presence on screen, often finding a balance between restrained and extreme performances. In addition, Daniel Craig brought all the necessary amount of charisma and discreet humour to Blomkvist (and even a little extra chunk that made him a hell of a lot more believable as a real person!).
Finally, great cinematography worked to make the whole film (and yes, even the most horrific scenes) a pleasure to watch. The writing and direction were masterful and created disturbing suspense. Two scenes in particular stand out: the set up of a particularly brutal rape scene where the camera leaves the room tricking us into thinking that no, we will not be forced to watch any rape today; and the tense conversation between Blomkvist and the killer before he willingly follows him into a torture den.
In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher builds up an atmosphere and suspense that should keep you hooked and builds anticipation for the two sequels to come.