The English-language remake of the Swedish book and film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) is directed by David Fincher, and as a result is subject to many of his classic directorial Fincher-isms. The film’s synopsis is as follows:
This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch’s niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined. (source)
Film remakes are a funny thing. Sometimes I’m really not a fan of them, but sometimes they can add a little extra ‘something’ to an existing film series that either makes the remake a truly fantastic film, or enhances my appreciation of the original film. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a remake that I’m sort of on the fence about. Whilst it was an enjoyable affair, ultimately I’m not sure it necessarily needed to be made. I’ve read the book series by Stieg Larsson back in the day (and loved them), and watched the original Swedish film trilogy (and loved them too). It has to be said that the original Swedish films are probably better than this one.
Apart from watching this to see how David Fincher might interpret the source material, one wonders about the purpose of remaking the series. There’s a lot to enjoy about the film, but it doesn’t really add to the already existing Swedish film trilogy, which are already excellent films in their own right (and are 100% recommended by me). The acting in this is by and large very good. There are quite nice performances by Daniel Craig and Stellan Skarsgard. The real standout here, however, is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, who fully commits to the role, and who I will probably imagine in my mind as Lisbeth when I eventually re-read the books. The film is tense, quiet, and dark, with a good script, a gorgeous yet disturbing opening title sequence, and fantastic, buzzing, industrial music score by Trent Reznor.
What’s really to celebrate about this film are its visuals. David Fincher has again joined forces with cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, as they had previously worked very successfully together on Fight Club (1999), The Social Network (2010), and Gone Girl (2014). These two seem to be a very winning combination, as what has resulted is an absolutely beautiful-looking film which successfully captures the bleak nature of the book, successfully communicates Fincher’s love of symmetry and mirrored shots, and his apparent favourite colours of greenish-yellow, which persist across most frames of the film. That’s not to say I’m getting tired of it, because these colours are appropriate for the film and it looks amazing, but you do wonder about how far Fincher and Cronenweth can go with this colour palette given how often they use it.
Perhaps The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo falls victim to ‘remake syndrome’; seemingly a film that didn’t really need to be made, and was forgotten about fairly quickly, the original Swedish films being generally regarded more highly. It is perhaps a shame that the next two books won’t be getting remakes as well, because not only would I like to see more of the visuals, but I’d definitely like to see more from Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. The film is a good adaptation, and is generally enjoyable and worth a watch.
Without further ado, please see below for a selection of my favourite visuals and shots from the film, mixed up to avoid spoilers.
Watch the trailer here.