Movie review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Jenny Kim

The American remake holds its own, armed with strong actors and suspense at every turn

Based on the novel of the same name by the late Stieg Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a film as edgy and dangerous as its protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. From its breathtaking opening sequence up to when the credits roll, there isn’t a dull moment to be found.

Running at nearly three hours, Dragon Tattoo could easily fall into monotony, especially during the less action-heavy scenes. Instead, there is an atmosphere of suspense that is present in every scene that has you at the edge of your seat.

The story follows Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a disgraced journalist who is given a chance to save his career by a titan of Swedish industry. In return, he is to investigate the disappearance of a family member that has remained unsolved for nearly 40 years. He eventually enlists the help of misunderstood genius Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who is haunted by a turbulent and violent past. These original characters give a much welcome, fresh breath of air to the action genre. I loved Craig and Mara’s brief, but intense relationship on screen. Both were very strong leads and the fact that they spent nearly the first hour of the movie apart made their relationship even more intriguing.

It was fun to go into the movie with a completely blank slate. Having absolutely no previous knowledge of either the novels or the Swedish movie adaptation helped rather than hindered the overall viewing experience, because I was constantly trying to guess what would happen next. I even went out and bought the books the day after because I enjoyed the film immensely, and everyone knows how rare it is for a movie to outshine the novel it stemmed from.

It’s definitely not a movie for the squeamish or the faint of heart, as it deals with heavy-handed topics like rape and torture. Dragon Tattoo fully deserves to be called the feel-bad movie of the holiday season.

Director David Fincher does not disappoint with his retelling of Dragon Tattoo. With a solid cast, gorgeous cinematography, and brilliant soundtrack, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is easily one of the best films of 2011.

My fingers are crossed for the rest of the Millennium trilogy to be made into films, and hopefully by the same director.