Film Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Is there something wrong with the fact that David Fincher’s “The Social Network” is more exciting than his remake of  “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?”  People looking at computer monitors and holding board meetings shouldn’t be more engaging than Nazis, steel dildos, and serial murder. But it is.  There’s a moment near the end of this movie that really sums up my feelings about it (don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything). Rooney Mara (as the title character) is walking toward someone, carrying a gun, and she’s prepared to use it. You fully expect her to use it. But then something else happens instead to resolve the issue, something convenient. Something less satisfying for her and the audience. And that’s kinda how the whole movie goes – misdirection to things less cool. And I think it’s safe to say David Fincher is promising ‘cool’ with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because its main title sequece is something out of James Bond heaven — the most wicked title sequence you’ll see in a long, long time. But then Fincher spends the rest of the film’s two-hour, forty-minute running time under some odd (self-imposed?) restraint.

Given how much I like some of Fincher’s other work (I’m a huge fan of “Fight Club” and “Se7en”), and as much as I respect screenwriter Steven Zaillian, I expected something much more satisfying — both emotionally and viscerally. The mystery plot is overly complicated and unrewarding — the revelations come as result of plot contrivance and convenience, not because of anything that can actually be solved or figured out. The film drops its pretenses in the third act — a welcome relief — and becomes slightly more exciting, but it’s almost too little too late. Some may admire Fincher’s subdued approach here (“Zodiac” made me sleepy, too), but I felt the material begged for more sizzle and I know Fincher’s capable of delivering it in an artful way.

But not all is lost. Mara and Daniel Craig give fine performance. In fact, the movie only begins to get entrancing once the two meet up. Trent Reznor adds another interesting score to his accomplishments. The film really hits its stride about 3 minutes before the end. And that’s when I realized this is just one piece of a larger, and possibly much more interesting, puzzle.

Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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