I went into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo knowing that it was a “hard R” adaptation of a Swedish novel directed by David Fincher, and left with three things on my mind: the film certainly earns its R rating, it was obviously based on a book, and I believe that this is one of Fincher’s lesser films.
“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Title Sequence by Blur from Motionographer on Vimeo.
First of all, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is violent, though what it lacks in gore it makes up for in sexual and psychological violence. The film deals with rape throughout, and although it’s certainly never glorified, Fincher doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the main two or three overtly violent scenes. No one left the screening I was at, though I did hear about people walking out at other showings. Personally, I think I was sitting sideways in my seat for at least the most disturbing of these, with a fairly disgusted look on my face. If you’re thinking of seeing the film, be prepared. That said, there’s only a few scenes like this, and they are all within the first hour or so of the film.
Secondly, this movie plays very much like a book adaptation. The story is a bit complex, the names and characters can be tricky to follow, and just when you think the film has reached its climax, there’s another 30 or 40 minutes. This last point, of course, is never an issue when you’re reading a book. You can hold it in your hands and see that you still have 20% of the pages left. But when you’re in a dark theatre and you think the movie should be wrapping up aaaaaaaaannny time now, it throws you off.
The story was good, but I had issues with a few things, particularly the relationship between the two main characters.
Finally: Fincher. I love David Fincher films, and I think he’s one of the best directors working today. However, I just don’t think that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of his better works. When it comes to the film’s mood, he nails it. It’s dark and cold and menacing. Every frame, although shot in colour, is filled with black and white. However, in a film that’s almost three hours long, I shouldn’t be walking out of the theatre a little uncertain with how things ended up. I dunno. Maybe I’m just slow, but I did have to confer with people who’d read the novel on a couple of issues.
It’s also not nearly as visually interesting as many of his other movies. The Social Network, for instance, is a perfect example of Fincher taking a screenplay made up of people talking around tables, and managing to make it an incredibly stylish film.
It sounds like I’m bashing this movie, and maybe I am. However The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not a bad movie. I liked it. It’s just one that I expected to like a little more.