Review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

With the months and months of hype surrounding this film, it arguably removes the need for reviewers to harp on about how ‘you MUST go see it, now!’, but for what it’s worth, you must go see it…. Now.

If, like me, the book passed you by and you thought you’d wait until someone jumped in and digitised it (an English version anyway) to see what all the fuss was about, then I can assure you that, after watching this, you’ll get it. I also learned while eavesdropping on a gentleman conferring with his lady friend during the sticky floor shuffle we all partake it when exiting the theatre, that this so called ‘Hollywood’ version is surprisingly accurate to the novel. As mentioned previously, I haven’t read said novel so I can’t really comment, however I can assume that the overall premise is the same – adding to her own personal and financial problems, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a troubled and antisocial young computer hacker is called upon to assist recently smeared journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), in his search for the truth behind the disappearance of Harriet Vanger who went missing 40 years ago and is presumed dead. Their inquiries lead them further and further down the rabbit hole of the Vanger’s sinister and shrouded past, until they find themselves so far in that they aren’t permitted to turn back.

It’s ultimately a ‘who dun it’ but without the Scooby doo premise of falsely leading evidence and a line-up of potential, creepy offenders. Instead leaning more towards the sheer brilliance of Salander’s technical prowess in uncovering and mentally logging evidence (she has a photographic memory), accompanied by her complete disregard for the social comfort of anyone who comes into contact with her. I feel it necessary to include a disclaimer that there are some severely disturbing parts to this film, Salander’s life is far from a fairy tale, but I reassure you that without these, your understanding of her character and the impact of the film as a whole would be dramatically lessened. The story is hugely complex and isn’t devoid of a few head scratchers, I’ll admit, but therein lies part of the enjoyment, piecing together the story with your mates afterwards and arguing over the interpretation of events. So, it’s not really a film that you can sit back and take in leisurely, in fact there’s an unspoken agreement that when you buy your ticket, you are expected as a viewer to put in as much effort understanding the plot as Stieg Larsson did in writing it. Or adversely, you could just watch it a couple of times and gradually make sense of it all. Either way, you’ll still feel like MacGyver.

There couldn’t be a more brilliant setting for this type of film; the eeriness of the desolate and white washed Swedish landscape perfectly accents the underlying threat that stalks Blomkvist and Salander in their pursuit. But at the same time the majestic beauty of the scenery retracts from the overbearing feeling of impending doom. Try to compare it to the battle between the wolf and the buffalo on frozen planet, intense, yes, but oh so picturesque! It’s not all edge of your seat, trust no one, paranoia though, Craig pulls out another Bond-esque performance where he’s still able to have a laugh and pull out a witty quip even when someone’s trying to murder him. ‘Diverse?’ I hear you say. Well yeah, but in Craig’s defence, it worked well with the character, so I guess, if it ain’t broke…?

More notably though, Salander is unexpectedly genius in the comedy stakes, with her F*** you attitude and jaded demeanour she’s shot right up there as one of my favourite heroines, although I can’t imagine she’s a character intended to be brandished on a bedroom wall poster. Her approach to dealing with people (for the most part anyway) is hilariously ‘no nonsense’ and blunt. Maybe it’s the Britishness in me, but god I found her rudeness exhilarating. Even her inability to say ‘thank you’ resulted in satisfied giggles.

All in all, if you’re a fan of complex plots, dark and gritty characters and a bit of Nazi influence then I’d suggest you give it a look-see as there literally isn’t a dull moment in this film. If I had to include one bugbear it would be that Daniel Craig’s lack of a Swedish accent is unjustly overlooked. I know you’re a big, famous actor now Dan, but at least take a whack at it? Other than that the film is easily one of the best that has graced the silver screen in a long while and I defy you to dislike the tattooed protagonist herself, Lisbeth, who as a completely original and mesmerising character is clearly the reason behind the trilogies success.

9/10

Review by: Lauren Clark

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