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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Review (US)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Review by Jason Palmer

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE global success of The Social Network has meant David Fincher’s stock has never been higher. It comes as a strange surprise then to see him tackling a remake as his next project – and of a popular European franchise to boot.

Thankfully, he’s done a remarkable job of painting Stieg Larsson’s acclaimed best-seller onto a larger canvas and gives The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake a strong identity of its own, which is both compelling and entertaining.

For those not familiar with the original Millennium trilogy, a wealthy businessman (the always reliable Christopher Plummer) hires a disgraced journalist named Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to investigate the disappearance of his grand-daughter some 40 years ago.

Making his way through the evidence alongside an unconventional but brilliant computer hack Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), Blomkvist uncovers a sinister past that threatens not only the case in hand but their own lives too.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo finds Fincher in fine form, delivering a dizzying mix of palpable tension and raw emotion to startling effect. Be warned, this isn’t an easy watch but it does offer a genuine rollercoaster of emotions filtered through the lens of a true auteur.

This is a movie that looks sumptuous even during its darker, more sinister moments and that’s squarely down to Fincher’s keen direction.

Steven Zaillian’s screenplay, meanwhile, makes the complicated original narrative of Larsson’s book coherent and accessible and the jarring score helps move things along nicely. There’s even a clever and downright scary use of Enya’s Orinoco Flow thrown in for good measure too.

Filling the iconic shoes of Noomi Rapace is a tough ask for anyone but Rooney Mara excels in the role. Her Lisbeth Salander is a more emotional and fragile entity (and dare I say it) works better than Rapace in the grander scheme of things.

It’s an explosive character and one that showcases Mara as a genuine talent destined for great things.

Daniel Craig hands in a noteworthy performance that’s perhaps his best work to date and Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright and Geraldine James are all on hand to provide memorable supporting roles too.

Remakes are here to stay and while most are unwatchable cash-ins, at least this version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo feels fresh and relevant. With assured performances and an engrossing plot it’s a worthy endeavour.

But when all’s said and done it’s Fincher’s direction that stays with you the longest. Newcomers will easily buy into it, fans of the original can take heart that this is a very well made movie that retains that spark of originality, and even knowing how the story eventually plays out doesn’t affect your overall enjoyment of the film – which is probably the highest praise you can level at a remake.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 158mins
UK Release Date: December 26, 2011