When the announcement came that Stieg Larsson’s thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was getting the American remake treatment, like many, I winced. Too often, a domestic versioning ends up a dilution of the original, bloated with hyper-real action scenes and effects. But in the case of David Fincher’s telling, I’m happy to say that the strength of the material justifies the revisit. Critics worldwide agreed, and the film earned multiple award nominations and a won a total of seven various awards.
Like its Swedish predecessor, the U.S. version tells the story of journalist and publisher Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), who, after having been framed in a libel scandal, is hired by an aging patriarch (Christopher Plummer), a onetime magnate obsessed with the 40-year-old unsolved murder of his favorite niece. Nimbly aided by Lisbeth Salander (the Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara) — a tattooed, pierced 24-year-old computer hacker whose disturbed past has her captive as a ward of the state — Mikael scours his client’s family and their Nazi past, landing the two of them in a web of deceit and cold fear.
While it doesn’t delve as deeply into Swedish culture as Larsson’s novel, the film does feature plenty of beautiful, icy imagery of Swedish vistas and cozy cottage life, along with an abundance of seriously disturbing violence — in particular violence against women — that I will argue is not only essential to the story, but in many ways is the story. Politics of gender and power are strongly in play here, and Lisbeth is a model of modern woman earnestly trying to change the game to play it on her own terms. That doesn’t make it an easier film to watch or hear, but if you can weather the visceral challenge of its imagery, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is more than entertainment — it’s a provocative experience that can challenge your perception.
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is available starting March 20 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2012 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group