I’d like to open this review by being as blunt as the movie I’m reviewing; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a masterpiece. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery, it’s an examination of family values gone wrong, it’s a character study, it’s a portrait of the violence and cruelty the average person tries to pretend doesn’t exist, it’s gritty, it’s raw, it holds no punches as it shouldn’t, it’s fascinating, it’s compelling, it envelops the idea of truly extraordinary filmmaking and yes it is a masterpiece.
I had not read the book before seeing this film nor had I seen the Swedish version of the film. This gave me the opportunity to view this film with out an ounce of prejudice. I wasn’t judging the movie based on how similar it was to the book or if it was better than the swedish version of the film, I was able to simply experience it for what it was, a spectacular film. This was the first time I was to take in this particular story and I have no regrets because this film was spectacular.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tells the dark, and I mean dark, tale of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist and their involvement behind the mystery of Harriet Vanger and her disappearance 40 years ago. I obviously don’t know how much screenwriter Steven Zaillan did in adapting this story for the screen, but the writing was real and enthralling. For coming up with such a calculated and phenomenal story, the true praise here belongs to author Stieg Larrson.
The performances here are more than what you’d expect from great cinema. Christopher Plummer is simply an amazing actor and his work here speaks for itself. Stellan Skarsgard is also always a pleasure to watch and the same goes for his performance in this film. Whether it’s in a good movie or a bad movie, there is just something about Daniel Craig that I find appealing as an actor. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he plays what may be the most human character he’s ever played and plays him with that same appeal. None of those performances were as demanding and incredible as the star of the film.
Rooney Mara as the rebellious and layered Lisbeth Salander is a revelation of potent prowess. Lisbeth Salander is fascinating creation of strong will and self-proclaimed insanity, a character so captivating and memorable that only a truly brilliant performance would suffice. That’s the exact performance you’ll find from Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Every deliverance of a line, facial expression, or gesture is just exquisite. This is a performance that most actors can only give in their dreams.
The direction here is quite honestly indescribable. David Fincher has done something here that you really have to see to believe. Every shot, every music cue, every finite detail is treated with respect and the result is a flawless movie. My second favorite David Fincher film is The Social Network and Fight Club is Fincher’s magnum opus. However, in terms of the scope, the filmmaking and the pure craft of it all The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is second to none. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the kind of film that serves as a reminder of what a perfect movie is.