Watched: January 9, 2012
Summary: Very stylish dark thriller
TGWTDT is a peculiar literary and cinematic phenomenon. Wildly successful, it’s not your typical story or route to success. It also proves that some people, at least, still have an attention span.
Broadly, this is a serial killer mystery blended with a taunt character driven thriller. The story itself has an odd structure. For those of you that don’t know, we have an old Swedish billionaire who hires a brilliant investigative journalist to investigate the forty year-old unsolved murder of his niece. This is wound together with the life of a hacker/investigator (the titular girl) who investigates first the journalist and then the murders. But oddly, they don’t even meet for half of the film. The first half is driven by the journalist’s investigation and by dark character study of Lisbeth (the girl).
Be warned, this film contains crime scenes, grisly crime photos, crazy homicidal dudes in their dungeons, and a very harrowing rape sequence which is all too graphic. Director David Fincher lends his natural taste and talent for the creepy to the material with great success. No surprise, he directed my all time most disturbing film, Seven. This TGWTDT is much more stylish than the Swedish versions (and that was good too). Plus this style doesn’t trivialize the material at all, but only serves to heighten the emotional impact. The story is somewhat streamlined from the earlier film and the book, but also without significant sacrifice.
Daniel Craig is highly competent in the role and the excellent supporting cast makes fine work of the host of swedish creeps (and occasional decent human being). But it’s Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth that absolutely steals the show. Of course this character is probably to a good degree responsible for the success of the franchise, but Mara does her justice. Her Lisbeth is detached, yet sexy and vulnerable, but also kick ass physically and intellectually. She’s a very complex character and both her striking visual presence and subtle performance are riveting. I particularly liked her sexual relationship with Craig. Here’s a man who clearly is used to being a man, and then she reverses the whole deal on him. He likes her, but doesn’t really know what to make of the whole thing.
But for us, that’s great movie making. Just be warned, this is not a film for the squeamish.