Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Following one of the most dramatic Guy-Ritchiesque trailers and the (now) legendary rise to fame of the late Stieg Larsson, TGWTDT (to give it it's full initials) had high expectations. To give it a fair trial one must refrain from watching the Swedish film of the same name and/or reading the book. Director David Fincher (Social Network, Benjamin Button) takes his time to work through well selected scenes and character introductions. In traditional Fincher fashion he leaves no holds barred.

Make no mistake, This is a very adult film - think of Fincher's Fight Club or Seven. In terms of story expect a classic 'who dunnit?' structure that could be lifted from any saturday afternoon murder mystery series. You may even peg the killer early in the film, simply from an examination of casting choice… but these are minor quibbles. Directing school says a great film is a good story well told. This is a good story told in gritty, engaging, often shocking but totally absorbing style.

We follow Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigative journalist, discredited and professionally destroyed, hired by a wealthy post-war industrialist to investigate the death of his niece. Enter weird family with Nazi-related histories and a deeper story of inter-linked deaths and darkness. Of course before Mikael is hired, he himself is investigated, thoroughly, but illegally. Queue entrance of said Girl with pre-mentioned Dragon Tattoo.

Lisbeth Salander (played by Rooney Mara, Social Network) is a product of a disturbed youth and exists in a cyber-crime ridden subculture of Scandinavian urbania. A prisoner of the system and working off the radar for 'deeper' investigations, Salander is forced to realise her latent potential to an extreme when her state-appointed financial trust-fund manager abuses his position of power.

Thus begins a tension filled roller-coaster that brings Mikael and Lisbeth's worlds together and creates a palpable bond that should carry well into 2/3 more films. Apart from the odd unnecessary red herring, TGWTDT delights, shocks, confuses and paints a visceral world that well deserves to become part of classic cinema history. Bring on '... Played with Fire' and … Hornet's Nest'! The sooner the better.

9/10 - but avoid if you are of a more gentle disposition!

- Kushal


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