Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A-Z Movies, G: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)"

Recommended by:
Laura (friend)

Note: I specifically asked Laura whether she recommended the 2009 or 2011 version and she said 2009, which I dutifully wrote down on my list. Even so, I somehow managed to borrow the 2011 version from the library, and watch it all the way through, before realizing that I had the wrong version (I think I got it in my head for some reason that Daniel Craig was in the 2009 version so I just ignored all signs to the contrary). So, my apologies to Laura. I promise I’ll watch the 2009 version someday so I can compare the two. 

Movie Stats:
Released 2011(UK)
American, Swedish, and Norwegian, in English
Director - David Fincher
Stars - Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard

Plot Summary:
Set in Sweden, when journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) loses a libel lawsuit, leaving him publicly humiliated and his magazine in jeopardy, he’s enticed to northern Sweden by tycoon Henrik Vanger (Plummer), who wants him to solve the 40-year-old mystery of his niece’s disappearance. Mara co-stars as Lisabeth Salander, the young computer hacker whom Blomkvist hires as his assistant, and Skarsgard as Martin Vanger, Henrik’s nephew.

Blue language; graphic rape (both male and female); graphic violence, including torture of humans and one animal; nudity (pretty much everything except I don’t think I saw male butt); and sexy times of the consensual variety.

Bad Stuff:
I hated the very ending. It made me want to punch Mikael in the face for being an obtuse idiot after I’d spent the whole movie really liking him.

You know me, I’m going to complain about the accents. Since I specifically rented the non-Swedish version when there’s a Swedish one available, I won’t complain that they’re not speaking Swedish. However, I will complain that each and every one of these actors spoke with a different accent when all of them are supposed to be Swedish. I find it distracting. (I know, I’m probably the only person in the world that this bothers.)

The opening credits are so weird that it made me uncomfortable. If, however, that was the point, then I say job well done to whoever made them.

Good Stuff:
I loved the mystery. I can’t stress that enough. Stieg Larsson, author of the novel on which this is based, crafted a really taut, interesting story. Although some of my initial suspicions about the mystery turned out to be true, there were enough twists and turns in the story that I got thrown off the track. And despite being right on some level, there was still an aspect or two of it that caught me by surprise. I don’t like most mystery/suspense stories because they’re obvious, but this one is good.

When the film began, I thought to myself, “Oh, here’s Daniel Craig, playing a moody tough guy. Does he even have range?” And then came the scene where Mikael [SPOILER] gets shot and nearly killed [SPOILER] and he’s so very clearly freaked out about it, which frankly wasn’t Bond-like at all. Just like that, I gained a new appreciation for Craig’s range. In fact, everyone was superb in this. I don’t have anything bad to say about any of the actors.

I liked that the bad guy stayed dead. Normally in these kinds of movies, the hero spends 20 minutes trying to kill the bad guy, who comes back from the dead like three times and you’re like, “Oh, just die already. Geez!” Not so in this movie. The bad guy gets what’s coming to him and stays dead, thank god.

The Verdict:
I really liked it. Everyone says the Swedish version is better, which I find difficult to believe because this was really good (perhaps the Swedish version is closer to the book). It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, and if you find sexual violence trigger-y, you might want to give it a pass. But if you like a well-crafted mystery, if you like to keep guessing, and/or if you like a movie where the suspense is ratcheted up very, very slowly, I think you’ll like this one.

I give the movie 4.5 stars.


Patricia said...

...torture of humans and one animal.

Even more than a deal-killer than graphic rape scenes. Torture is the #1 reason why I can't be a movie critic.

I really like David Fincher movies, but I won't be seeing this one.

balyien said...

To be fair, the animal torture is off-screen and implied. I was only guessing torture based on the condition in which the animal's body was found. The torture in this wasn't as disturbing to me as the torture in "Slumdog Millionaire," but perhaps only because I wasn't expecting it in that movie.