Movie Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander is stoically punk. From the very beginning of the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” she evokes an air of righteous defiance and self-imposed isolation. Her attitude punches home a sense of queasiness only reinforced by her appearance.

Her skin is sickly white, and further offset by a collection of twisting tattoos that violently crawl up her body. In short, she makes everyone, especially the viewer, uncomfortable.

From the opening credits, this movie, with a brilliantly transformed Rooney Mara, succeeds in delivering Lisbeth to the big screen.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is the second theatrical rendition of the first novel of Stieg Larsson’s worldwide bestselling “Millennium Series.”

Acclaimed by film critics, the movie received a rating of “86 percent Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

With meticulous director David Fincher at the helm, a large but not gluttonous budget, a fabulously dark and unpredictable soundtrack and the truly justified star power of Daniel Craig, this movie ignited a frenzy of fan support with its own interpretation of a worldwide phenomenon.

The plot is complicated, which is one of the reasons “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” runs for 158 minutes, according to IMDb.

Salander, a master hacker and government ward, is trapped in her current life, labeled psychologically “unwell” and at the mercy of the state.

Over the course of the movie, Lisbeth joins forces with the recently humiliated criminal reporter Michael Blomkvist, played by Craig, to solve the 50-year-old mystery of a missing girl from a rich, dysfunctional family.

Like the book, however, the movie rightfully spends a significant amount of time developing both Lisbeth’s and Michael’s characters and focuses on their relationship.

Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo is clearly not a remake or reproduction of the 2009 Swedish adaptation. His rendition paints a stark and violent picture using short, fast scenes that combine perpetual screaming and mind-numbing silence.

Oscar-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross once again deliver nail biting sounds that, no matter what the tempo, succeed in amplifying the suspense, according to

The film’s title sequence itself is a wondrous terror to behold, featuring a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” accompanied by a deliberately female, ethereal voice thrown into metal cacophony.

The “nightmare abstract sequence,” as described by the sequence’s creative director, Tim Miller, is full of oozing black tar, while animated wires smother the screen and Lisbeth’s body, hinting at dark themes to come.

After such a violent introduction, Lisbeth is clearly the core of the movie.

Even the way she uses her MacBook – like a trusted tool, a cerebral artist or an elegant hacker – reveals yet another layer of her character and the attention to not only detail but also to the personality that Mara devotes to her portrayal of Lisbeth.

Craig does not disappoint as the attractive and troubled reporter Blomkvist, but Mara steals the spotlight with an understated and raw interpretation of a woman who hates men.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” takes an already deep and powerful, yet convoluted, story of an indefinable anti-heroine and pays homage to her by reinterpreting her story in a different medium, using a visual and aesthetic approach to great advantage.

The movie is rich with an absence of color. Fincher uses the lack of color, Sweden’s bleak, brooding, cold landscape and the chilling music as mediums through which to tell and intensify the story.

Just as Lisbeth is an aberration in the human world, so too is her movie.

Quite simply, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is unsettling and captivating and does justice to Larsson’s novel.

Ultimately, it brings to life a heroine who is so different, so unique and so independent, that she captivates her audience, not just with her appearance but with the sheer force of her character.