Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

David Fincher
2011 • 158 Minutes • 2.35:1 • United States
Columbia Pictures, MGM

Principal Cast - Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff
Screenplay:  Steven Zaillian from the book The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Producers:  Ceán Chaffin, Scott Rudin, Søren Stærmose, Ole Søndberg
Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth

Awards & Honors

American Film Institute
Official Selection for 2011

Academy Awards
Nominated: Best Achievement in Cinematography - Jeff Cronenweth 
Nominated: Best Achievement in Film Editing - Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter 
Nominated: Best Achievement in Sound Editing- Ren Klyce 
Nominated: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing - David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Bo Persson 
Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Rooney Mara 

BAFTA Awards
Nominated: Best Cinematography - Jeff Cronenweth 
Nominated: Best Original Music - Atticus Ross, Trent Reznor 

Director's Guild of America Awards
Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures- David Fincher 

The Essential Film Awards
Nominated: Best Actress in a Leading Role - Rooney Mara
Nominated: Best Screenplay - Adapted Material - Steven Zaillian
Nominated: Best Film Editing
Nominated: Best Music - Score - Atticus Ross, Trent Reznor

Golden Globes
Nominated: Best Original Score - Motion Picture - Atticus Ross, Trent Reznor 
Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama - Rooney Mara 

Writer's Guild of America Awards
Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay - Steven Zaillian (screenplay) - Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, originally published by Norstedts

 I want you to help me catch a killer of women. 

David Fincher has done it again.  The director of such films as Se7en, Fight Club and The Social Network has once again crafted a dark and compelling motion picture featuring an engaging plot and a misanthropic lead.  Of course, Fincher’s new film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a remake of the 2009 Swedish film of the same name, which in turn was an adaptation by the novelist Steig Larsson.  Comparisons are bound to be made… with die hard loyalists claiming the original film is better.
I would disagree.

That is not to say that original is a bad film.  Far from it.  The original is an excellently made piece of cinema.  Fincher just does it a little better.  Storywise, it’s pretty much exactly the same movie:  Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger to investigate his family. Why? Because Vanger believes that his beloved niece, who disappeared 40 years ago, was murdered by a member of his family.  The titular girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salender, is an outcast computer hacker that Blomkvist employs in helping him solve the unsolved murder of Harriet Vanger.

The differences in the two films come down to one major point:  Style.  The original 2009 film was presented almost as a procedural… kind of like a “Law & Order” episode.  The 2011 remake, however, shows off much more of Fincher’s trademark visual style.  Everything from the set design to the cinematography to the direction made this film feel unique.  In fact, even though I saw the original first, I forgot I was watching a remake.  This is truly its own movie.

Daniel Craig plays the male lead, Mikael Blomkvist.  It’s nice to see Craig do something other than James Bond, which admittedly, is all I believe I’ve seen him do.  He plays a convincing detective/journalist in search of the truth.  Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger is well-cast… Plummer always classes up the joint, you really can’t miss with him.  Even in a bad movie, he’s good.  Stellan Skarsgård and Robin Wright round out an excellent cast with their contributions.  However Rooney Mara, a relative unknown, steals the show.  

Mara is best known as Erica Albright from The Social Network, otherwise known as the girl that dumps Mark Zuckerberg in the opening scene of the film.  Mara also had a roles in Youth in Revolt and the dismal Nightmare on Elm Street remake, but she really shines here as the title character.  Angsty, full of rage and wickedly smart, the Lisbeth character could easily become a caricature in the hands of a less talented actress.  Mara is also careful not to copy or imitate the iconic performance of Noomi Rapace from the original film.  While Michelle Williams is scooping up all the Oscar buzz for My Week with Marilyn, I would place Mara as a strong contender for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
If there is one place the original succeeds where the remake doesn’t is the ending.  The original was far more efficient and economical in how it wrapped up the loose ends, while the remake took more time to do so.

That said, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a must watch film this year.