CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

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, Daniel Craig, Robin Wright Penn, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson
  • 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 Stone

    Stone

    Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife

  • Film4 Pusher

    Pusher

    Nicolas Winding Refn's Danish crime thriller is given a British makeover starring Richard Coyle and Agyness Deyn

    On Film4: 27 Feb 10:45PM

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3 on Film4

    When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4

  • Film4 Serenity

    Science-Fiction Season on Film4

    The future starts here! Film4's 2015 season of science fiction features classics of the genre, old and new

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Postcard from Sundance

    Dark Horse director Louise Osmond on visiting Sundance for the first time, where her film premiered to critical acclaim and won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. [caption id="attachme

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 signs development deal with Jonathan Glazer

    Film4 has announced a development deal with Under The Skin director Jonathan Glazer, continuing its longstanding relationship with the acclaimed British filmmaker. David Kosse, Director of Film4, s

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Interviews

Share