By Clint Morris
You normally wouldn’t advise one to ‘go over’ a Tattoo, but in the case of Stieg Larsson’s inked offering, it only illuminates the piece of art.
”The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is Mesmerizing. Confronting. Thrilling. Sexy. Compelling. And so is the remake.
The Swedish smash, an erotic murder mystery that rocketed Noomi Rapace to superstardom and made the freakishly beautiful Lisbeth Salander one of our times most recognized heroines, was always going to get a Hollywood remake – what in this unsettling climate of “what can we exploit next?” and “I’m feeling lazy today, can we just hand in someone elses work?”, but luckily for us, David Fincher wanted to be the guy to remake it.
Fincher, one of today’s most original, most compelling and most audacious filmmakers, isn’t slumming it by merely replicating someone else’s film either. It’s a marriage made in.
You see, Larsson’s story is a stylish serial killer thriller that gets under your skin with its seamless ability to push its audience into not only investing but becoming very familiar with its equally flawed heroes and villains. Sounds not unlike the structure and tone of Fincher’s ”Se7en” and ”Zodiac”, no? Makes sense that ”Dragon Tattoo” be the concluding chapter in Fincher’s killer crime trilogy.
Unlike Fincher’s previous films though, much of the appeal of ”Dragon Tattoo” lies within its characters not the actual murder mystery.
Though the central plot, concerning a disgraced journalist and his crafty eccentric sidekick being hired to find a missing girl, is engaging, the story is really Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.
Not only are they one of the most interesting and nonconformist couples to grace the screen, but Salander and Blomkvist are mesmerizing because they’re much more flawed and scarred than your typical Hollywood blockbuster heroine and hero. In fact, the two here are dissipated at times, and even plain spiteful in their plights, but at the end of the day, they’re just two humans looking for love and answers in a world gone mad.
Just as the Swedish film did, Fincher’s ”Dragon Tattoo” is coated in heavy-duty sex scenes, a horde of squeamish moments (including an uncomfortable rape scene) and it’s packed with another star-making performance from the lass playing Salander. Rooney Mara, who you’ll recall from her brief but memorable role as Mark Zuckerberg’s offended date at the start of Fincher’s ”Social Network”, gives an amazingly brave and brilliant performance as the Goth girl cum crack investigator. Just as Rapace did in the original, Mara let’s it all hang out here and is determined to give audiences a close-up view of the emotional and physical scars that bear Lisbeth Salander’s frame. Hard work playing a character like this, but whoever said winning an Oscar was easy?
It’s plot isn’t any more complicated or challenging than a ”Kiss the Girls” or ”The Vanishing”, but what keeps ”Dragon Tattoo”’s fire fueled is it’s electric performances, a fine attention to detail, credible characters and, in this case, enthusiastic direction.