The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Christopher Plummer.

Is the hype surrounding the American cinematic treatment of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, first part of the literary sensation that is Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium’ Trilogy justified? In a word: yes.

The story is based in Stockholm, where investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist’s career lies in ruins after being convicted of libel in a controversial exposé of a wealthy and influential industrialist. He is enlisted by Henrik Vanger (Plummer), the elderly patriarch of a prestigious, family-run Swedish company under the auspices of writing his biography. In truth, Vanger is haunted by the disappearance of his beloved teenage niece in the 1960’s. He desperately seeks Blomkvist’s investigative skills to help solve this mystery and provide a small measure of closure after all this time. Blomkvist, initially reluctant, is convinced and in the course of his assignment is joined by Lisbeth Salander, a professional ‘hacker’ and personal researcher.

Rooney Mara (The Social Network) is mesmerising in her performance as the damaged yet defiant Salander and she is captivating in every single scene that she performs in. Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) portrays journalist Blomkvist in a downbeat and understated manner, and, as a result, he fails at times to fully connect with the audience in portraying a man whose professional life is in turmoil.

Much comment will be made surrounding the graphic scenes of sexual assault which Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) unflinchingly depicts. They are harrowing, and will be unpalatable to many but are an essential event in understanding the character of Salander.

Fincher utilises a dark and edgy score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch (The Social Network) to enhance the naturally harsh and bleak setting of northern Sweden and the dark and disturbing subject of the film.

The film’s main weakness is the length which it devotes to Blomkvist’s initial settling on the Vanger estate; this results in an ending that feels rushed and a viewer unfamiliar with the books could be left somewhat confused.

Having witnessed some of the filming of the parade scene taking place in Uppsala, it is extraordinary to see every element of Larson’s complex tale brought to life. A strong cast and Fincher’s natural talent succeeds in creating a tense and gloomy world that absorbs the viewer.

In A Nutshell: A faithful version of the thriller, which highlights sexual violence against women and is elevated above an episode of Law & Order: SVU by Mara’s incredible performance and Fincher’s flair.