Monday, July 1, 2013

Film Review--The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Joley Richardson, Robin Wright, Steven Berkoff, and as Ed Snowden The Beav.

Mikhail Blomkvist (Craig) is a disgraced journalist who has turned to investigating the disappearance of a wealthy man's (Plummer) niece 40 years ago.  He is aided in this case by a punky young computer hacker (Mara) and together they find that the disappearance is but the surface of years of murder and corruption.

No, this is not the genre of film that I normally review here in the Echo Chamber.  Despite the common and recurring themes of my posts, I really do try to make this a blog about...well, everything.  That said, I have specific reasons for choosing this movie to review.

This is a cyberpunk film.  At least that's what I believe.  You see, cyberpunk isn't all about advanced technology.  It is about...among other things...attitude.  The character of Lisbeth Salander has that in spades.  She is damaged.  That means she knows she can survive.  She is on her own.  That means she will use technology and anything else she can get her hands on to her advantage.  As Gibson's favorite Burroughs quote goes, "the street finds its own use for things." Lisbeth is obviously a punk given her fashion as well as attitude and she is also most capable computer hacker, so I suppose by definition that makes her "cyberpunk."  But cyberpunk is also about mood and tone.  The setting of Sweden, with its long nights and cityscapes amid the wilds, suits this nicely.  The desolation and isolation of the winter, the sense of being cut off from everything as is underscored by Blomkvist walking around and trying to get reception on his cell musters an implacable sense of tension and unease.

Of course it doesn't hurt the tone any that David Fincher is the director.  I've been a fan of his not just for incredible films like Fight Club (one of my favorites), but going all the way back to his music videos of the early 90s such as Madonna's "Express Yourself" and Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun." The man is a master of both style and story, composing shots that look good enough to eat.  That and he was able to take, in my opinion, a mediocre book and turn it into a captivating film.  It doesn't hurt that in this medium Fincher was able to rip out the tedious chapters full of Swedish corporate law that added such dead weight to the book.

As with the book, however, the most memorable aspect of the story is the character of Lisbeth Salander.  Rooney Mara brings her to life with considerable accuracy, giving us a character that we at once pity, admire, fear for, and at times are disgusted by.  In other words, a complete human being.  The film's long stretches of dialogue are a refreshing change from many of today's films as it allows for this development of character.  On the subject of acting, Daniel Craig turns in a solid and un-Bondlike performance and Christopher Plummer is great in everything he does.

I must warn, however, that the depictions of sexual abuse and torture are not for the squeamish.  If you can get past that though, an intense ride awaits.  Plus, if you have any taste in music, then you will appreciate that the soundtrack is done by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and features a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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1 comment:

  1. The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is a good film that's expertly directed by David Fincher and features a fantastic, break-out performance from Rooney Mara.  It's length and brutality might be too much for some viewers, but I think it's worth it.


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