The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic

Directed by: David Fincher

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Normally I'm not a huge fan of American remakes of 'foreign' films. Reading subtitles isn't that hard, is it? But I'll make an exception for David Fincher's jaw-droppingly dark adaptation of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While the Swedish version was competent, this big-budget thriller is in an entirely different league. From the disturbing, dysmorphic, sensual bombardment of the opening credits, pulsing to Trent Reznor's aggressive remix of Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song', the film grabs you by the jugular and doesn't let go.

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Characters that seem unconvincing or unsympathetic on the page spring sharply into focus: Daniel Craig's truth-hungry, world-weary journalist provides the perfect foil to Rooney Mara's vulnerable, resourceful, iron-strong, brilliant, autistic, wiry bundle of contradictions, the eponymous Girl, Lisbeth Salander. While I never really got their relationship in the book or original film, here you can understand the forces that draw together these two disparate people: the laissez-faire, sexually relaxed older man, easy in his own skin, and the damaged young girl, who, riddled with piercings and tattoos, seems anything but, at odds with herself, the world and everyone she encounters, yet who connects immediately with his mission to 'catch a man who hurts women'.

Scenes of truly nasty violence are strung though a complex, twisted, enthralling plot alongside moments of jet black humour, all set against a gloriously chilling background of Swedish ice and snow, a landscape redolent of isolation, repression, its people fuelled by black coffee, cigarettes and the occasional sandwich.

And then there's the fine supporting cast, a pacey script that cuts through the verbal clutter of the book to expose the rawly beating heart of the story and a fantastic, pitch-perfect soundtrack from Reznor and Atticus Ross that merges sinister electro beats with haunting, every day noises to devastating effect (the scene in which Lisbeth is first molested by her guardian, to the accompaniment of a whining floor cleaner, is deeply disturbing).

So forget any prejudices you may have about Hollywood remakes: this is a movie you can't miss. Bring on the rest of the trilogy...

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