Posted by: greercn | January 1, 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The happiest people in the audience were the ones who never heard of Stieg Larsson, Michael Nykvist or Noomie Rapace.  They were spared comparisons and thinking about this movie as a remake of the first of a perfectly fine Swedish trilogy of movies based on a TV series based on a book.

Hearing them chatting happily, I decided ignorance may be a great blessing. I have clear memories of three original movies that were released in 2010 and 2011. Those films are just too recent to be remade. Good memory is a great curse, in this case.

The big problem I had with the original movie is the same problem I have here. The rape scenes are awful to watch. I am a feminist and there are no circumstances in which I can watch rape and be okay.

Seeing Daniel Craig in a role Michael Nykvist owns is very difficult. Craig is James Bond, for crying out loud and every time he refers to himself as a “58-year-old journalist”, I have to suppress laughter.

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth is airbrushed and glows. This is punk gone Vogue with beautiful lines and shimmery lights. Mara played the girl who rejected Mark Zuckerberg in the first scene of David Fincher’s “The Social Network”. That role is fiction as Zuckerberg has been in a relationship with the same woman since before Facebook existed.

Having said all that, there are great strengths here. Sweden looks terrific. David Fincher is really good at drawing you in and some of the complexities of the original Swedish film are simplified and easier to follow.

Our hero journalist has been found guilty of libel and virtually bankrupted. A rich Swedish industrialist, played by the wonderful Christopher Plummer, hires him to figure out why an adored young relative disappeared, 40 years earlier. Crack computer hacker Lisbeth (Mara, the Girl of the title) comes along to help.

At worst, this movie feels like an extended advertisement for Apple Computers. At best – any scene Robin Wright or Joely Richardson is in – the film feels less fractured than the original and easier to understand.

But people pretending to be Swedish becomes very Muppets’ Swedish chefs and you may start remembering their little songs.

Too many movies from other countries are being remade too quickly. Is Hollywood out of plots? No, but recession-hit times mean you need sure-fire and proven stories.

There are loads of original stories out there, but Hollywood is not about taking risks, right now.

I liked the sense of real research in archives being completed, in a painstaking way. I also liked the genuine sense of a cold isolated island and a an underheated house. The island houses most of the industrialist’s extended family.

The sense of understatement and tortured lives was also handled quite well.

The soundtrack, by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is terrific. I was going to complain that “The Immigrant Song” is ripped off, but it’s given credit.

I miss Tehilla Blad, who was so moving in giving the back story of the young Lisbeth in the original. I also miss Noomie and Michael, who languish in the new Sherlock Holmes and Mission Impossible movies, when they should be starring in this.

This film will bring the story to a whole new generation. About a third of my blog subscribers are under 18 and won’t be able to see it, legally, but they are resourceful young people and some of them have already blogged on it. I think they will love it a lot more than I do.

My biggest issue is that the leads are just too glossy and beautiful, in a tale of the socially excluded and marginalised.

The Notting Hill Gate Picturehouse is a beautful and comfortable place to see a movie. I had to move forward as I had a hair tosser in front of me who chatted through the whole thing while playing with her hair, which was enormous.  Fortunately, there were a few spare seats at the front. This venue does terrific coffee. Just terrific.

Should you see it? Yes, you should. You will rarely see such gorgeous people in such beautiful places.  David Fincher loves this story and that love shines through. Mara and Craig have real chemistry and the whole ensemble of the cast have wonderful moments of brilliance.

I still long to see Rapace and Nyqvist together again, with Tehilla Blad in the story somewhere.



  1. I have seen the Swedish version, but haven’t been certain whether or not I should go to see this. Watching the trailer, I’m a little turned off by the proclamation that it’s the “feel bad movie of Christmas,” simply because the issues dealt with in the movie are meant to be uncomfortable, not to make viewers feel bad. The ad just seems to miss the mark a bit. Anyway, good review and I am curious to see it…though I know I’ll miss Noomie!

    • !Yes, I missed Noomie and Michael and Tehilla Blad (the young Lisbeth, who doesn’t exist in this). But I would still say to go see this, despite your and my shared misgivings. David Fincher does love this material and it shows. It’s all very entertaining for a new audience, but I felt it brought some new energy to the story and I am glad I swallowed my misgivings and saw it. Thanks for following

  2. It’s certainly worth seeing if you missed the original. If you saw it, however, there’s no way of unseeing it, and nothing in the new one to top it. Craig and Mara are great here though and Fincher brings so much more to this film like I was expecting too. Good review.

  3. After having some time to reflect, I think the glossiness of the two leads puts me off. They are just too pretty. I have a lot of time for Fincher, but I miss the rough and real feel of the original movies.

  4. Nice post I’ve bookmarked it on Digg under “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) Greercn's Blog”. So hopefully our friends can give you a visit. Kudos for content!

  5. Have you not seen “Beyond” (Svinalängorna) yet? Then you will see both Noomi Rapace and Tehilla Blad playing the main character Leena. Tehilla has a big part and she is acting great. Both Noomi and Tehilla was nominated for the Guldbagge Award (the Swedish “Oscar”) last year for Beyond.

    • Thank you! No, I haven’t seen it but I will look out for it. Tehilla has an amazing acting future as she is such a terrific actress. And I hope Noomie gets better roles for her than the one in the second “Sherlock Holmes” film as she is capable of much better. She wasn’t bad in that, but she has so much to offer in leading roles.

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