There is no one more perfect to direct the American adaption of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo than David Fincher.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) is directed by David Fincher and stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as Mikel Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander respectively. After Blomkvist is publicly found guilty of libel, he receives a strange request by enigmatic retired businessman Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve a 40 year old disappearance. But, aided by Lisbeth, he begins to delve into the disturbed Vanger family and discovers a revelation far more insidious than anyone anticipated.
Considering I’ve read the book (yes, I’m one of those people) I can honestly say that the film does an exceptional job of bringing the disturbing and grim world of Steig Larson’s novel to life. The plot relatively follows the same structure, and each character feels authentic and accurately realised – particularly Salader. Mara embodies the lithe physicality and anti-establishment attitudes of the hacker perfectly. Craig is just as good, with many of his grim mannerisms as Bond passing over to this role, meaning that its not a huge stress but still very effective.
And now to Fincher. One of my favourite directors, his style and sensibilities fit this movie like a bat to a dark cave. The film strikes the perfect tone of dark despair and intrigue, and the frozen Swedish landscapes look absolutely gorgeous under Fincher’s watchful eye. There was no other director better suited for this film.
The only real gripes I have lie with both the novel and the film. In regards to the actual Vanger mystery, the resolution and tropes that play out are very conventional. Many of them can be seen in almost every mystery or procedural – a small clue that someone humorously interprets correctly, the antagonist taunting the criminals, a conspiracy that reaches further than they predicted. They’ve all been done before. Fincher’s tone and fleshed out characters keeps it from feeling too stale, but as mysteries go this one is unfortunately predictable.
But beyond the flaws in the source material, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo still succeeds in many areas. Under the vision of David Fincher, the complex characters and despairing tone of the novel have been perfectly realised on screen, and has created an adaption any Fincher (or novel) fan will appreciate.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended