Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


Reason Associate Editor Peter Suderman reviews director David Fincher's adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, in today's Washington Times:

People will say there are a million ways to shoot a scene, but I don't think so," director David Fincher has been quoted as saying. "I think there're two, maybe. And the other one is wrong." In "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Mr. Fincher never picks the wrong shot.

The movie, based on Swedish author Stieg Larsson's massively popular novel, is as meticulous as it is mesmerizing, steeped in a chilly mix of visual detail and gruesome incident. It is sometimes a hard film to watch, but even in the midst of its most gut-churning moments, it's impossible to turn your eyes away.

Like "Seven" and "Zodiac," two previous Fincher films, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is a serial killer movie. It's also a self-contained murder mystery, and a feminist revenge picture. If the film has a flaw, it's that it cannot entirely decide which it wants to be, and while each of the individual elements is handled masterfully, the combination is sometimes awkward.

Whole thing here. 

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    1. Don’t forget this. This was good too.

      1. Kill Bill

      2. I can no longer think of Patrick Wilson as anything other than a pedophile after seeing Hard Candy.

      3. Epi you missed the original

        And of course this classic

        Farah Fawcitt had a nice little post Angels career doing feminist revenge porn in the 1980s.

        1. You might like this, John.

          1. Now that is a first class 70s B movie. Thanks Epi.

  1. Having seen the original TGWTDT a couple years ago, I have little interest in seeing “it” all over again now. Is it just me?

  2. As it turns out, Pierce Brosnan may end up being my favorite Bond.

    1. Brosnan is a pretty good Bond. Or, at least, he had some pretty good films.
      Okay, Goldeneye.

    2. If they’d just turn Craig loose to play the Layer Cake guy as a government agent, he’d be a fine Bond.

  3. In “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” Mr. Mr. Fincher never picks the wrong shot.

    Someone’s been finching off of Mr. Mister? To say my wings are broken is an understatement.

  4. John Boot at PJM slams it as badly written leftist pornography. But does have this to say

    The sex scenes between Blomkvist and Salander seem thrown in to give us one more chance to see Mara (who is in her twenties but has the body of a high-school sophomore) naked, not because Fincher makes us see any connection (emotional or physical) between the characters.

    I will be in my bunk.

    1. Does your bunk have internet access?

    2. not because Fincher makes us see any connection (emotional or physical) between the characters.

      I know very little about the story or characters, but what I have heard makes me think the lack of connection could be the point?

    3. Eh? Isn’t the book about how all the noble socialist lefty institutions either fail Lisbeth or are actively engaged in crimes against her? It’s definitely not right-wing, but it’s fairly critical of a lot of what American liberals desire.

      1. According to the review the author was a communist and all of the villains in the book evil capitalist who came by their wealth dishonestly.

        1. All those Swedish crime fiction novelists were hardcore communists, Sj?wall and Wahl??, Stieg Larson, Jan Guillou, Henning Mankell, etc.

        2. The main character Blumqvist is sort of a lefty socialist journalist, and the family they are investigating is definitely in the “came by their wealth dishonestly” camp. But not all of the family members are portrayed as particularly evil.

          On the other hand, Salander is sort of an anarchist (libertarian) hacker who makes a fair sum with nothing but a laptop as the “means of production”.

          So it kind of shows both ends of capitalism … big politically connected industrialists, vs. individualist computer hackers.

          1. “I’ve never been sympathetic towards people who take the law into their own hands. But I’ve never heard of anyone who had such a good reason to do so. At the risk of sounding like a cynic, what happens tonight will happen, no matter what you or I think. It’s been written in the stars since she was born. And all that remains is for us to decide how we’re going to behave towards Lisbeth if she makes it back.”

            Armansky sighed and looked grimly at the old lawyer.

            “And if she spends the next ten years in prison, at least she was the one who chose that path. I’ll still be her friend,” Palmgren said.

            “I had no idea you had such a libertarian view of humanity.”

            “Neither did I,” he said.
            The Girl Who Played with Fire

        3. The guy who hired the protagonist in the first place was a wealthy business dude, and a sympathetic character.

          Most of the bad guys are driven more by old ties to Nazi-ism than capitalism. And the state (and its social institutions) sure as shit doesn’t come off looking too good. Punishing the victims of abuse and letting their abuses off for cynical reasons. Seizing funds need to engage in business and using control of those funds to extort… favors.

      2. Indeed, the whole thing with her “guardian” is that he abuses his bureaucratic position to coerce sex out of her. He’s the dark side of the welfare state – people in positions of power supposedly looking out for your welfare aren’t necessarily angels.

    4. The writing’s pretty terrible. It’s airport paperback trash. About as “cool” as Tom Clancy.

  5. I don’t understand why Edward Scissorhands is caught up in solving crimes with James Bond.

    Is this some of that studio synergy I’ve been hearing about?

  6. I really dig Fincher, though I never saw Social Network as I detest that whole FB culture.

    I saw Shame over the weekend: Reason should review less mainstream, Hollywood shitfactory films and go freak, in my opinion….

  7. Hey, so Blomkvist bangs his business partner regularly, who happens to be married to another man, then taps one of the older Vanger family women, and tops it off, so to speak, by porking the socially retarded Salander. Is that what makes this a feminist revenge flick?

    Not that I’m complaining about all that banging. Just askin’.

  8. I’ts embarrasing to me that an America director as good as Fincher felt the need to remake the movie from the original Swedish, and epsecially that he had the balls to use actors who even LOOK LIKE the actors in the original.

    1. I imagine it went down something like, “Here’s a huge budget and 5 points off the top, how about it?”

    2. They did the same thing with “Let the Right One In”. The Swedish version was great. I guess they figure Americans are too stupid to read sub titles.

      1. I thought the original did ok here. I know I saw it (the whole trilogy, in fact).

  9. It’s hard to believe Rooney Mara, as good as she is, can be as good as Noomi Rapace, but there is certainly room for Daniel Craig to improve on the role of the reporter, and Fincher to improve on the direction.

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