Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 18
  • Action, Drama
  • 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Synopsis

Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is called in to help disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) solve a decades old missing person case

About

Something is rotten in the heart of Sweden. Financial corruption, the lingering ghost of Nazi collaboration, ingrained institutional misogyny, an unsolved murder case forty years old... Batman and Robin wouldn't know where to begin. Luckily, a different dynamic duo of talented investigative sorts in dingy goth garb and chunky knitwear respectively, are on hand to get to the bottom of things.

Although the chunky knitwear half of pair, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), is no cardboard cut-out, the dark heart of this story (whether we're talking the fat airport books, their Swedish language screen adaptations, or this Hollywood version), has always been the titular 'girl'. Twenty-something Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is a misanthropic, borderline autistic, hacker genius whose policy of trusting no-one has been justified to date by the crap-sack hand she's been dealt in life. She refuses to be a victim, and refuses too to do the morally upstanding thing and turn the other cheek. As in director David Fincher's Fight Club, we're encouraged to empathise with some deeply dodgy behaviour from the supposed protagonist.

Being female, Lisbeth's under more obligation than your typical anti-hero to behave herself and do the grown-up thing. This character is placed under great pressure within the narrative of the film itself, but she's also operating under enormous cultural pressure. She's been held to represent by different commentators, variously: a sleazy male writer's fantasy woman, the greatest thing to happen to feminism since flammable bras, the best lead in a thriller in about a decade, a champion of vengeful vigilante violence, and a bold new figurehead for a female-led high-end thriller franchise.

Lisbeth herself, of course, wouldn't give a shit about how she's interpreted, and that's probably what allows the film to work. Lisbeth is not written or played as one-dimensionally representing any single critical stance, which is what allows so many interpretations of her to legimately co-exist. That's probably a healthy place for a piece of cinema to be - a more polemical script would leave less room for different readings.

You do have to wonder whether a male Lisbeth would be burdened with the weight of so many viewpoints, or whether he'd simply be allowed to be more of a Charles Bronson Death Wish figure. The rarity of this type of female lead aside, this film simply isn't very radical; it's just a big, slick, enjoyable thriller that happens to be less than usually shy of actually showing the sort of brutal rape that normally happens off-screen in these type of murder procedurals. It's ultimately David Fincher's perfectionist talent for creating a gripping aesthetic that raises this film above your average James Patterson adaptation.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Stellan Skarsgård, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson, Robin Wright Penn, Daniel Craig
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Screen Writer: Steve Zaillian
  • Writer (Book): Jeff Cronenweth

In a nutshell

Only rarely does this film put a foot wrong, and yet it's perhaps concentrating so hard on doing so, that it never takes the truly wild leaps or risks that could have made it either disastrous or magnificent. Instead, it's just pretty damn good.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Sitter

    The Sitter

    Jonah Hill stars as a slacker who's forced to fill in as a babysitter for a night, but the kids he's looking after prove more than he can handle when he takes them on a crime-filled trip through NYC

  • Film4 Amy

    Amy

    Senna director Asif Kapadia tells the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words with the use of unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks

  • Film4 Evil Dead

    Saturday Night Shocks on Film4

    Horror, mystery and suspense stake its claim on the weekend. A new season of Saturday Night Shocks comes to Film4.

  • Film4 Bridesmaids

    Comedy Season 2015 on Film4

    Eight nights of contemporary comedy hits, including first plays of Cuban Fury, American Reunion, The Sitter, and the network premiere of 21 & Over, on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2015 Wrap Up

    I've just come out of the press screening of the festival's Closing Night film - the ecological documentary The Ice and the Sky - and, for me, Cannes is finished for another year. A few great films an

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2015: Love at the movies

    Film4 Channel Editor David Cox reports on the closing days of Cannes 2015... We're down to the last few days of the festival now, with crowds thinning out and the amount of films still to premiere co

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Interviews

Share