The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: directed by David Fincher; written by Steven Zaillian
Ummm, January and all those films to see…
I tend to churn out those 99 word non-reviews for films I have nothing particularly significant say anything on. Of course, this belies the fact I don’t necessarily have anything particularly significant to say in the full length reviews I churn out – but I’m already digressing from the main thread here, which is – I would love to toss out actual 1000 word thoughts on the last dozen or so films I’ve seen recently, but for the fact that words at my disposal (struggling to string two of them together), and neither is time for that matter. So truncated thoughts ahead.*
Due to my deliberate blindness in terms of pre-release information, specifically trailers I did not know much of any of these films I’ve seen recently (Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse, The Descendants) going in; even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I knew the most about – but still not much. Honestly, all I knew was that it had anal rape, a goth looking lead and Robin Wright in what Jose said was a rich role. I love him, but he lied – but, more on that later. I know enough about the film to know that it’s based on a trilogy, and the sort of literary mystery which as presented by Zaillan’s screenplay wears it literary roots in a rather obvious showing itself to be more of a John Grisham than a John le Carre, which is not a specific criticism because I happen to like John Grisham. And, although it’s not a well-known position of mine, I think the world needs more well-made genuine mystery films. Pleasure in the simple things, and whatnot, right?
Or, maybe I’m looking at it from the wrong angle because I feel like everything it establishes is so small scale. Again, not a criticism, but there’s a certain…not exactly whimsy, but tongue-in-cheek silliness (which would admittedly come across better in the page, assuming it’s found in the novels) which I feel the film should have but doesn’t and that’s probably because Fincher’s proficiency with his very serious aesthetics make it something of a humourless which I assume (again, with the assumptions. I KNOW,) the book digs into. Because, really, a Nazi villain, tape rape, then violent retribution, a more than subtly shoehorned in romance? There’s the slightest of dichotomies in the fact that Fincher’s presentation of it is so lofty – or maybe that’s part of the joke and I’m missing it? What we’re presented with, though, isn’t quite a mystery – the conclusion to it all would be a slap in the face if it were, neither is it a love story because said romance between our de facto hero and heroine feels particularly disingenuous.
BUT, this is not a character and I don’t think it’s meant to be and the team-up half way through of Lisbeth and Mikael is a necessity for the “mystery” to be solved and though it’s hokey wrap-up is more than a little exasperating – and not particularly “surprising” it’s well orchestrated in the basest of ways. And, considering how many films managed to lose my love this year for being so excellent but for the way that they were presented it’s gratifying to see how Fincher makes his case for this fairly middling escapade and turns it into something that seems worthy of giving significant thought to, even when on perusal it all seems to be startlingly…empty.
* Honestly, this started off as a two-paragraph bit piece and turned into…this. The tone’s off in regards to my usual reviews, but good lord this is long. Ummm, apologies?