Tuesday, December 20

Considering David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"

It's funny how film releases go. There can be months of waiting where maybe one or two releases has me thinking that if I were bored on the weekend I might take the time to visit the theater and watch them, and then comes a two week stretch where there are at least four movies out that I'm actively interested in seeing. I'm trying to figure out how I can justify paying for all the tickets and how I can make time, and then I get a pair of free tickets to an advance screening of David Fincher's remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. When fortune smiles on me like this, I cannot help but to share my thoughts.

Adapting Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an interesting choice for Fincher. On the one hand, it's a crime procedural like Seven and Zodiac and Lisbeth Salander is an outsider not so different from The Social Network's Mark Zuckerberg and Fight Club's Tyler Durden. You can see what Fincher could find attractive about the novel, and he does some excellent work with what he has. There are some beautiful scenes. The use of ambient sound of the subway when a man grabs Salander's bag and runs and the floor buffer when Salander first asks Bjurman for money are brilliant. The editing makes a guy looking flipping through pictures on his computer engaging. Fincher gets a surprisingly effective turn from Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, as the tired and broken Mikael Blomkvist. Rooney Mara does a fine job as Salander but doesn't match Noomi Rapace in the Swedish original, but who could?

But what's it all for? The source material is a generic thriller that most stands out for the intensity of the sexual violence and its Swedish setting. Fincher's faithful to it and creates some beautiful scenes and imagery, but that's all there is. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I had hoped for something more from the man who has directed three of my favorite films of all time.

A question regarding the sexual violence. Salander is handcuffed and anally raped by her government payee and guardian early in the film. She returns to the man to do the same and more to him. Both scenes are brutal. If you found them titillating in the least, you need to ask yourself serious questions about your proclivities, but people laughed when Salander had Bjurman at her mercy. I don't understand that. It wasn't meant to be funny. I even think that Fincher edited the two scenes that they resembled each other, that there were more parallels than simply what they did to one another. Why did people laugh? Why was it funny when the woman kicked a dildo into the man's anus and not when the man straddled the woman? Cheering at the second scene, as loathsome as it would be, I could understand. The woman outsmarted the man legally and physically superior to her. Evil was answered and vengeance was taken, but the audience's laughter unsettled me. Why did they laugh?

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