Monday, August 23, 2010
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A-
Normally I might feel tired watching another violent mystery involving brutal crimes against women, but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is surprisingly fresh and invigorating. It's one of the year's best in a year when all different kinds of thrillers have thrived. The story of a newspaper reporter and computer hacker trying to solve a 40 year old murder comes from the late Stieg Larsson, who's novel and its sequels have become an international phenomenon. Europe has already produced all three adaptations, with the first two (Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire) already out in the U.S. and the third (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) due in October. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a traditional detective story with modern conveniences and heroin you'd never have seen in the old days. She's the hacker and is already on the road to becoming one of the iconic fictional characters. She's a genius, but she doesn't act like one. Her past is haunted and she possesses a quiet intensity and a temper that can explode at any given moment. She looks like a ghetto rocker, wearing tight jeans, dark makeup, and sporting a weird gothic hairstyle. As soon as she gets involved in the mystery, revelations begin to fly like sparks. Then the movie, despite some preposterous elements, really gets fun. The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is a Swedish film, but it looks and feels just like a Hollywood studio picture (with the exception of some of its brutality). It's not the kind of artsy foreign film that average Americans run and hide from. And this of course leads to the major question of why it's being remade into an American movie? It has the great David Fincher behind it, but what will he bring to an already dazzling film? And the argument that this is the only way Americans will be exposed to the story is a poor one because the European version brought in nearly ten million in just 200 theaters. That, I believe, is some sort of record. Oh well, I liked the European version a lot and wish Fincher would tackle a different project instead. But as it is, Fincher's second film released just a year after his previous one is due out next December (and you'd think its holiday release would ensure a PG-13 rating). But who knows. Fincher may be the best director working today who doesn't write his own screenplays. Maybe he'll surprise me.