Monday, January 02, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

If you are planning on seeing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, prepare yourself for two things.

First, it is a deeply disturbing movie. As one of the protagonists mentions early in the film, the characters involved are "thieves, misers, bullies - the most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet." Both Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) the discredited journalist and Salander (Rooney Mara) the hacker hired to help catch a killer of women are faced with violence and pain. They suffer torture, mental abuse, and sexual assault. Their investigation uncovers a series of ritualistic levitical murders. From the disorienting opening sequence (typical of director Fincher's work) set to Trent Reznor's version on Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song, through the use of Enya's Orinoco Flow during a pivotal scene, much of this movie seems to wallow in the depravities of man.

The second thing you should be prepared to endure is shameless product placement. There's no attempt to disguise or subliminally allude to corporate sponsorship. Brand recognition is not subtly flashed across the screen or quietly hinted at - it is brazenly displayed leaving no doubt who helped fund the film. In the first fifteen minutes alone, I noticed blatant plugs for Marlboro, Apple, Coke, and Google. As the movie continued, companies like McDonalds and Nokia found some convenient advertising.

While this is not a movie for those with a week stomach, it is well done. David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac) knows what he's doing. He is skilled at coaxing stellar performances out of actors in films typically burdened by dark subject matter.

The Swedish setting is beautiful at times yet maintains a haunting quality. Reznor and collaborator Atticus Ross (the same duo that scored Fincher's last movie - The Social Network) composed a stunning soundtrack that fits the mood and sets the pace throughout The Dragon Tattoo.

If I offer any recommendations it's tepid at best. My biggest reservations with Dragon Tattoo - aside from the film's graphic nature - are parts that did not make the leap from book to movie. While Mara does a fantastic job portraying the broken and emotionally fragile character of Salander, we fail to see why she's so messed up - quirks that are aptly explained in the book. I will also warn that parts of the movie were extremely difficult to watch - especially the scene where Salander carries out revenge on her sadistic state-appointed caretaker.

Over all, I was impressed with what Fincher accomplished, however The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not a film I'd ever want to see again.

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