Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2011 English-language thriller film directed by David Fincher, written by Steven Zaillian from the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson.

The film stars Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander and tells the story of a man's mission to find out what has happened to a girl who has been missing for 40 years, and who may have been murdered. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including one for Rooney Mara for Best Actress, and won one for Best Film Editing.

The Plot

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of "Millennium" magazine, has just lost a libel case brought against him by crooked businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a researcher and computer hacker, has compiled an extensive background check on Blomkvist for a job that Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) wants him to perform.

In exchange for damning information about Wenneström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and possible murder of Henrik's grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. While hunting for clues, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook filled with information that may help explain Harriet's disappearance.

Salander is under legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency. Her new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), seizes control of Salander's bank account and rapes her.

Blomkvist hires Salander to further investigate the notebook's content, and she uncovers a connection to a series of murders that occurred from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s. During further investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik's brother Harald (Per Myrberg) identifies Martin, Harriet's brother (Stellan Skarsgard), as a possible suspect. Meanwhile, Salander makes increasingly revealing connections between Harriet's disappearance and the entire Vanger dynasty.

Blomkvist breaks into Martin's house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him. He brags about his crimes, but denies killing his sister. Salander arrives and saves Blomkvist. She pursues Martin, who dies when he loses control of his vehicle on an icy road.

As more connections are made about the Vanger family, Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive, living under a false identity to hide from Martin. Blomkvist confronts Harriet, who describes the generations of abuse within the Vanger family and Martin's knowledge of her involvement in her father's death. Finally free of her brother, thanks to Salander and Blomkvist, Harriet returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.

As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it is not helpful. Salander responds by hacking Wennerström's computer and presenting Blomkvist with the necessary incriminating information about his activities. This evidence vindicates "Millennium" and destroys Wennerström.

Salander also hacks into Wennerström's bank accounts and transfers two billion euros into her own accounts. During this time, Wennerström is murdered. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander spots Blomkvist and his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright) walking together happily. Heartbroken, she throws the gift away and rides off on her motorcycle.


Film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has reported that 87% of 191 critics who have reviewed the film have reviewed it positively. The site's consensus states: "Brutal yet captivating, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the result of David Fincher working at his lurid best with total role commitment from star Rooney Mara." Critical aggregator Metacritic awarded the film a score of 71 out of 100, aggregating the reviews of 41 critics, and describing the consensus as "generally favorable reviews".

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a rating of 3.5/4, particularly praising Rooney Mara's performance. "It has been a fascination with the lean, fierce Salander that draws me into the 'Girl' movies. We know horrible things happened to her earlier in life that explain her anger and proud isolation." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "Fincher has made The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into an electrifying movie by turning the audience into addicts of the forbidden, looking for the sick and twisted things we can't see." While rewarding the film an "A" and praising Fincher's direction, he also gave high marks to Rooney Mara's performance which he stated "draws us to a quality deep inside her beyond her ability to solve a crime. By the end, she can feel something, maybe a touch of tenderness."

Mara has received acclaim for her performance, with Entertainment Weekly calling her a "revelation" going on to say that "Mara acts with a quiet power – a rage chilled into silence – that is almost ghostly." Variety noted her performance was "hypnotic".

Daniel Craig has also received critical notice for his performance as Mikael Blomkvist, who was described by David Germain of the Associated Press "as an anchor of cool rationality and judiciousness." Germain gave the film a 3.5/4 rating. Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club gave the film a "B+" rating, praising the chemistry between Mara and Craig.

David Denby, writing for The New Yorker, who created much controversy over his publishing of his review before the December 13 review embargo ended, reacted positively to the film and stated that it "is a bleak but mesmerizing piece of filmmaking; it offers a glancing, chilled view of a world in which brief moments of loyalty flicker between repeated acts of betrayal." Denby also gave praise to Rooney Mara, saying "Mara steals every scene she's in."

The film is not without detractors, however. Kyle Smith, writing for the New York Post, described the film as "rubbish", adding that it "demonstrates merely that masses will thrill to an unaffecting, badly written, psychologically shallow and deeply unlikely pulp story so long as you allow them to feel sanctified by the occasional meaningless reference to feminism or Nazis."

Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the 2009 Swedish film adaptation, has been quoted as saying, "Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?"

As of February 20, 2012, the film has grossed $101,431,090 in North America and $119,700,000 internationally for a worldwide total of $221,131,090, beating its $90 million budget.

The Cast

Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist
 Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
 Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger
 Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger
 Steven Berkoff as Dirch Frode
 Robin Wright as Erika Berger
 Yorick van Wageningen as Nils Bjurman
 Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger
 Geraldine James as Cecilia Vanger
 Goran Visnjic as Dragan Armansky
 Donald Sumpter as Detective Inspector Gustaf Morell
 Ulf Friberg as Hans-Erik Wennerström
 Bengt C.W. Carlsson as Holger Palmgren
 Tony Way as Plague
 Per Myrberg as Harald Vanger
 Josefin Asplund as Pernilla Blomkvist
 Eva Fritjofson as Anna Nygren
 Moa Garpendal as Harriet Vanger

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