The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo opens Dec 20

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” I’m in Love with a Punk Rock Girl.

In America, subtitled movies aren’t a big draw at the box office, especially when the box office isn’t attracting the big crowds as it had in the past. The less Americans have to read the better.  Maybe that’s why there is a remake of a Swedish film based on a Swedish novel being released — a great story with none of the reading.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” directed by David Fincher, follows a similar story line as its Swedish predecessor. An elderly man receives a dried flower in a picture frame. He is speaking to someone on the phone telling him that he can’t take much more of this. The film immediately takes on its own grim goth/ punk persona through the opening credits set to the cover version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” by Trent Reznor and Karen O.

As in the original film we are introduced to a reporter for the magazine Millennium, Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig), who has just lost his life savings because of a libel suit from a billionaire industrialist.

Lurking behind Mikael is the actual girl with a dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander (played by Rooney Mara). Lisbeth is a freelance surveillance hacker for a security agency. Mara plays her role just as well as Noomi Rapace played Lisbeth in the original film. The tattoo is only part of her image. She looks like she would be at home in a mosh pit at a Nine Inch Nails concert. She is exact in her dialogue and meticulous in her behavior while surrounding herself with a 10-foot brick wall at all times. Lisbeth has been hired by Henrik Vanger (played by Christopher Plummer), another industrial billionaire, to run a background check on Mikael.  Henrik wants to hire Mikael to find out who murdered his niece, Harriet, more than 40 years ago.

There are two simultaneous stories at play here. One follows Mikael and his hunt to find Harriet’s murderer while he is on the Vangers’ island in Northern Sweden. The other story follows Lisbeth while she is dealing with her problems of being a young reclusive ward of the state.

If you follow Fincher’s earlier work – ”Fight Club,” “Seven,” “Zodiac” – you might understand why he took this job. The guy has a dark side. I am sure he is nice enough in person, but he unleashes his creativity in the most memorable yet unusual ways. Lisbeth has a guardian who has suffered a stroke and a new guardian steps in to take control of her finances. The new man is a sadist and assaults Lisbeth when she needs money for a new computer. She comes calling one more time to make things right, Fincher then places the audience in an uncomfortable situation. We witness a violent scene where most mainstream American movies fear to tread. On the flip side of that we see a revenge scene that most Americans can be comfortable in watching. Knowing that one bad turn deserves another.

Mikael’s and Lisbeth’s paths soon cross and they team up to unravel the mystery of who killed Harriet. While working together Mikael becomes closer to Lisbeth. This is a relationship that doesn’t seem that it would work due to Lisbeth’s dirty demeanor and Mikael’s more proper personality. It is uncomfortable knowing their age difference. But in such a dark and gruesome world that Fincher has developed with his violent scenes the relationship seems to fit in nicely.

We spend a lot of time following the companions to find more clues until the climax of who actually done it. But the film does not end there, Fincher pulls us further down the rabbit hole while we see Lisbeth exact her revenge on Mikael’s enemies. Not because she can, but because she wants to help him, she finally lets her guard down.

Should you see this movie? Yes. Keep in mind this is a Fincher film based on a vengeful subject matter. You have been warned. This is not a feel good holiday release movie. It’s a movie covering dark parts of the world and the darkest areas of the human spirit. There will be scenes that will stain your memory long after you leave the theater, all set to a haunting soundtrack.

Leave a Reply