The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander, man. The folks who’ve read the more than 65 million copies sold of the books in the “Millenium” series know this already, as do those who’ve seen the Swedish film trilogy.

I wasn’t familiar with any of it though, so this was my first exposure to this absolutely fascinating character, a tattooed, pierced, bisexual, extremely smart yet antisocial  hacker who, as played by Rooney motherfuckin’ Mara, is by far the biggest badass in any of the past year’s movies.

Likewise, I didn’t know anything about the intricately multilayered, wonderfully pulpy plot of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and found myself completely engrossed in it.

Set in Sweden, which is apparently populated with serial killers, rapists and Nazis, the story has disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) investigating the mysterious disappearance, decades earlier, of the great-niece of a retired industrialist (Christopher Plummer), who lives on a secluded island with much of his dysfunctional family (Stellan Skarsgård, Joely Richardson,  Per Myrberg, Marika Lagercrantz, etc.).

Screenwriter Steven Zaillian‘s adaptation of the Stieg Larsson novel just keeps moving forward as new pieces of information are introduced, and it’s all increasingly intriguing, as is everything having to do with Lisbeth, who ends up working as Blomkvist’s assistant.

David Fincher brilliantly, unflinchingly directs all of this, making even scenes of people looking shit up on computers riveting, but also nailing the more horrifying, suspenseful, disturbing and/or thrilling sequences.

The cinematography and editing are top notch and, post-”Social Network”, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross once again deliver the best score of the year, filling the soundtrack with alternately minimalist and overpowering music which creeps right into your soul and fills you with dread and awe with astonishing skill.  

I also loved the streak of black humor which runs through the film, much of it revolving around Lisbeth, naturally. In a world of evil and manipulative men, she refuses to submit to their playbook and would much rather cut through all the bullshit and just do her thing without a second thought, like a creature of pure instinct.

Can’t wait to see her again in the next two parts of the trilogy, which Fincher will hopefully shoot soon. In any case, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on its own is already a high point in his career.