Girl with the dragon tattoo remains David Fincher’s most underrated movie, 10 years later

Over the course of his long career, filmmaker David Fincher has been the mastermind behind many of the greatest thrillers to ever grace the big screen. Characterized by their clean, gloomy visuals and tense, unsettling atmospheres, his films explore twisted and macabre stories in a careful and detailed manner. Sandwiched between his early forays into the genre—Se7en, Fight club, Panic room, and Zodiac—And his most recent criminal works—Missing girl and Spirit hunterThe girl with the dragon tattoo, which turns ten this week, remains his most underrated film due to its brutal nature and heavy subject matter.

Adapted from the first installment of the Swedish bestseller by Stieg Larsson millennium series, The girl with the dragon tattoo focuses on Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig between duties as James Bond), a recently disgraced journalist struggling with the fallout of a defamation lawsuit that destroyed his reputation and the publication he runs with his lover / partner longtime salesperson Erika (Robin Wright). When he was approached by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (the late great Christopher Plummer) to investigate the decades-old disappearance and alleged murder of his then 16-year-old great-niece Harriet in exchange for a good amount of money and, more importantly, information regarding the billionaire who destroyed Mikael’s career, he jumps at the chance in the hopes that it will be a win-win situation.

As we meet the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), in the first few minutes, it takes almost an hour for her tale to join Mikael’s. The indefatigable anti-social punk hacker is recruited to help Mikael conduct research and gather information for the investigation. Despite being very different people who exist in completely opposite worlds, Lisbeth and Mikael share a mission – to uncover a legacy of murders and bring to justice the killer who has gone decades undetected – and their loneliness plays a role. a role in their intimate rapprochement.

Lisbeth is undeniably the beating heart of the film, thanks in large part to Mara. She gives depth to the heroine, conveying complex emotions in a subtle, vulnerable and human way that doesn’t look like a caricature. Instead of being diluted by a bruised woman in need of rescuing, Mara’s performance is layered, as Salander appears to be reserved and icy at first glance, but isn’t immune to actually feeling her emotions. . Not only did she quietly express her aloof demeanor with a pounding heart, but Mara physically transformed for the role, whitening her eyebrows, cutting her hair, changing her wardrobe and piercing her eyebrows, lips, nose, his ears and his nipple in order to better embody the character. A ward of the state, Lisbeth is threatened, mistreated and exploited by her relatives, namely her sadistic guardian appointed by the court. Despite being a trauma-shaped outsider, Lisbeth learns to face and live with her struggles, never letting them dominate her and allowing her to tap into her thoughts and feelings at all times – and we see Mara go through it all. I believe with all my heart that Meryl Streep stole the Oscar from Mara at the 2012 Oscars.

Although the film is two and a half hours long, Fincher never wastes a moment, creating a rich and fleshed out adaptation that, surprisingly, never goes beyond its welcome. Using an unconventional five-act structure, no part of the story feels rushed. Steven Zaillian’s script lets us know the base pair before the action starts, giving Fincher the chance to explore every detail despite being so loaded. Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall cut helps transform Dragon Tattoos, which could easily have ended up being dense, into something totally absorbing: seemingly mundane and unnecessary moments (like Lisbeth in the subway or eating at McDonalds) fully deserve our attention. Balancing them with the austere frame, they create tension while emphasizing that no detail is too small.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the haunting opening credits sequence of Karen O, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. (While Reznor and Ross won the Oscar for their work on Social network the year of Dragon Tattoos‘s, their pulsation nearly three hours long and with a bewitching atmosphere Dragon Tattoos the score is arguably their magnum opus.) A visceral Bond-style sequence, they mimic the entire film and reference the sequels – depicting drowning, sex, violence, technology, dragons, fire and hornets – in addition to representing the nightmare and the foreshadowing of Lisbeth. the conclusion with the hands coming out of the ground. They set the tone for the grim journey that lies ahead, and it’s clear from the moment the footage hits the screen that we’re about to experience something special.

In 2009, around the same time that Sony began to conceive of the idea for an American adaptation of Larsson’s novel, a Swedish adaptation trilogy starring Noomi Rapace was released. While these were posted first and are excellent on their own, it’s still hard to imagine anyone more apt to take on this story than Fincher, thanks to his previously established ability to create suspense. Nonetheless, its version has often been relegated to a simple basic American remake of a foreign hit. Swedish and American Dragon Tattoos The adaptations share many similarities, largely because they stay true to their detailed source material and capture its tone beautifully, but Zaillian’s narrative chooses to center the protagonists’ individual journeys that lead to their tales colliding. Instead of immediately delving into the central plot, it makes room to develop fully realized characters. If this had not been done, we would not have understood their motives for teaming up, especially since Mikael is a renowned investigative journalist while Lisbeth was initially hired to gather information on him. Of course, the Swedish version addresses this, but Fincher takes his time using these moments to lean on each other.

Although it was a critical success and received a handful of accolades, including an Oscar for editing and five total nominations, it didn’t do as many as expected at the box office when it was released over the weekend. -end of vacation. After being advertised as “the moody Christmas movie”, Dragon Tattoos was the rare blockbuster specifically targeting adults. contrary to Zodiac, Dragon Tattoos is much more brutal, explicit and violent, highlighted by a graphic rape scene that could easily have been left out. While crafted to perfection, stunning visuals that beautifully capture the dark, snowy Swedish backdrop to the aforementioned cut and score that perfectly match the tone, this is certainly not Fincher’s most accessible film, either in the crime thriller genre or its filmography in general. This is a big reason why he didn’t leave as much cultural impact as his other works, like Se7en and Missing girl, which have been praised for many qualities which also appear in Dragon Tattoos. While all three are grim murder mysteries with shocking twists and unhappy endings, Dragon Tattoos is not as liked. Missing girl has been called a feminist masterpiece, Se7enThe iconic ending of has been turned into a meme, yet Dragon TattoosThe scary marketing and graphic subject matter of s perhaps makes it too off-putting to comfortably find its supported champions.

A little after Dragon Tattoosupon release of, Fincher and his creative team began work on the second installment, The girl who played with fire, but due to repeated delays, the planned sequels failed and were eventually dropped. Seven years later Dragon Tattoosthe release of, it was restarted and the result was Fede Álvarez’s disappointing “sequel” The girl with the spider’s web, who adapted the fourth novel in the series, replaced Mara with Claire Foy and only involved Fincher as a producer. Now, Dragon Tattoos exists as an artefact from a bygone era when blockbusters could push boundaries and take greater risks, when really good large-scale movies were aimed at adult audiences.

Even though it was billed as a cranky movie, Dragon Tattoos offers brief moments of warmth and humanity – Henrik and Harriet reuniting for the first time in 40 years, Lisbeth meeting her former guardian – in a film that focuses on a cold and dark world full of evil and corruption. infiltrating from all corners. Even though it came more than a decade after some of Fincher’s founding thrillers, The girl with the dragon tattoo continues to be an underrated work, recalling that Fincher is at the top of his game when directing a psychological thriller. In the film’s final scene, Lisbeth goes to give Mikael a leather jacket, but discovers him leaving him arm in arm with Erika, leaving her heartbroken as she throws the jacket in the trash and walks away on her motorbike. Like Lisbeth in these last moments, as we see the sadness in her eyes, the film deserved better.

Jihane Bousfiha is a Florida-based entertainment writer. When she’s not watching or writing about TV and movies, you can find her tweeting about all things pop culture at Twitter_.

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