Friday, June 01, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) ****

R, 158 min.
Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian, Stieg Larsson (novel)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wrigtht, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic

Seeing the U.S. version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” a second time solidifies it as an example of the excellence of director David Fincher. In this film, he’s taken a work of pulp fiction from its source and created something that transcends its origins. His version of this fairly basic crime mystery displays a mastery of character, setting, suspense, structure, mood, and imagery.

Fincher’s masterstroke, however, is the casting of Rooney Mara as the titular girl, Lizbeth Salander. Mara was a fairly untested actress before this role. Her only starring role was in a horror remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, not an acting pinnacle by any standards. Fincher worked with her for two scenes in his masterpiece “The Social Network”, including the crucial opening scene. Nothing she did before this film, however, suggested how perfect she would be for this role.

I think one of the film’s only weaknesses lies within another casting choice, and that may not be a noticeable detail to people who don’t obsess over movies as I do. Stellan Skarsgård is an excellent actor and doesn’t step wrong in his role as Martin, but his presence makes the major element of the plot’s conclusion a little obvious. A more obscure actor might’ve worked better in this role for the purposes of the plot’s mysteries. But, perhaps someone who hasn’t paid as much attention to his career as I have would be a better judge.

Read my original review here.

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