Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85% (Critics) / 84% (Audience)
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Steven Zaillian
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Plummer
Mikael Blomkvist, a discredited journalist, is hired by a billionaire to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of his niece with members of his own family as the primary suspects. Joined by an enigmatic investigator/computer hacker, Blomkvist’s search opens decades old family secrets and takes him to dark, dangerous places he never expected.
The performances made this movie for me. Daniel Craig pulls off a great mixture of brainy, befuddled cool, Christopher Plummer is all old school charm steeped in an underlying layer of heart wrenching sadness, and Stellan Skarsgård capably portrays affable everyman on the surface with so much more boiling just below.
But the star of this movie is Rooney Mara. She’s brought way more to this role than I ever thought she was capable of from the previous work I had seen (the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake and THE SOCIAL NETWORK). She takes a different approach to the role than its originator Noomi Rapace. Where Rapace was more overtly aggressive and in your face, Mara’s Lisbeth is more restrained and icy…she’s almost reptilian in her coldness. It is a great portrayal and one of the best acting jobs of the year. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Mara rack up a lot of wins this awards season.
I can’t ignore David Fincher’s direction either. Having read the book and seen the Swedish original film I am pretty well versed in the happenings with this story but to his credit Fincher was able to make it all feel brand new to me. I was very happy that he kept the setting in Sweden and didn’t transfer everything to an American locale. Sweden was just as big a character in the movie as the human beings and I think a lot would have been lost if the location was changed. He also made it more brutal and even succeeded in making it an overall more depressing film than the original and that is a major feat since Scandinavian films are renowned for being sad and depressing pieces of celluloid.
It took a while to get to the point where Blomkvist and Lisbeth officially teamed up and once that happened I found they became too comfortable with one another a little too quickly.
That poor kitty cat.
Final Verdict: It’s not often that a U.S. remake of a brilliant foreign film can be considered equally as good but I would say that Fincher’s GIRL is even better. It’s a stylish, hard-edged thriller with some truly fantastic performances that will not disappoint. B+