The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Movie Review

Based on the bestselling book by Stieg Larsson, which I reviewed last summer (read my review), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the second movie based on the aforementioned novel, the first being a critically acclaimed Swedish drama.

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a top Swedish journalist whose world is crashing around him. He just lost a court battle during which he was accused of libel against a top Swedish businessman, his credibility is in ruins and his magazine is struggling. Amid all the chaos, he gets a peculiar job offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), the head of Vanger corporations, to write a biography about his family as a cover to a journalistic investigation into the disappearance of Vanger’s niece some forty years prior.

As Blomkvist begins to make advances in the case the likes of which he didn’t think he would be able to do, he is faced with the possibility of a Swedish serial killer of women being on the loose. The killings are biblical, based on Leviticus verses. But he needs help, which comes in the form of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an emotionally reclusive, mentally challenging and emotionally unstable hacker.

One cannot talk about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as a movie without talking about the reason it has such a title: the character of Lisbeth Salander. To say that girl is one of the most interesting characters to recently grace literature and now cinema would be a gross understatement. There’s just something about the fire in Lisbeth’s eyes, whether you’re reading her off a page or watching her on screen, covering a dark emptiness inside that is very unraveling, very dark and very fascinating. Therefore, the need of great acting skills to be able to interprete such a multi-layered character is in need. To be blunt, Rooney Mara excels.

Not only does she get you to feel compassion with her character’s moments of weakness, she also gets you to root for her in her moments of triumph. Rooney Mara is fascinating, down to the very basic articulations of the Meryl Streep-esque accent she has formulated for her character. She literally doesn’t shy away from giving the viewers of the movie everything she has to offer and she shines doing so.

Daniel Craig is great as Mikael Blomkvist. As I read the book, I didn’t really picture a character in my head for Blomkvist. But Craig manages to fill in the “blanks” I had after three books of reading Blomkvist’s pursuits. His performance is nuanced and is beautifully complemented and elevated by the previously mentioned stellar performance by Rooney Mara. However, what works against Craig in this movie is the fact that his character is nowhere near as interesting as Mara’s Lisbeth. But the biggest evidence to how greatly these two actors’ performances complement each other is the fact that the movie doesn’t really take off until you get both Lisbeth and Mikael in the same frame.

Another brilliant part of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the superb electronic music present in it, which has sort of become correlated in my head with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, whose previous works include last year’s The Social Network (My review). The darkest scenes in the movie are taken a step further in darkness by the score that Reznor and Ross envisioned for the movie.  Moreover, the cinematography in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is top-notch as well. On top of being very pleasing to listen to, it is a beautiful movie to look at – despite its very violent moments, some of which are among the most brutal I have watched on screen yet.

David Fincher, who also directed on last year’s The Social Network, manages to craft this Swedish noir novel into a movie that is very pleasing to the fans of the book. He manages to preserve the dark essence of the book and transfer it on screen with minimal changes to the material presented in the novel. Stieg Larsson would have been, in my humble opinion, very pleased to see his work presented this way on screen.

On the overall, the crew that worked on this movie managed to a dark and mysterious world full of family secrets, corruption, sexual perversity and redemption. The beautiful thing about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is that all the pieces fall together in a synchronized manner to deliver a truly brilliant cinematic experience, albeit being a movie of extensive duration, due to the book’s thick spine. At the end of the day, however, this is simply Rooney Mara’s movie. And with books two and three of The Millenium trilogy featuring Salander more and more in the spotlight, I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve. But let me tell you, this is epic and the next two will be epic, indeed.

9/10

Advertisements

Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win (And Who Should)

The time of the year is here and in preparation for the big event tomorrow, I have decided to post my Oscar predictions.

For the full list of nominees, click here.

Best Picture:

– Who will win: The King’s Speech

– Who should win: Inception.


If you had asked me a month ago what movie was the clear favorite for best picture, I would have easily answered “The Social Network” but having not lost a single guild award it was nominated for and with it building momentum by the minute, it’s hard to see how the movie that is nominated for 12 Academy Awards will lose. However, regardless of the exquisite movie that is The King’s Speech, no other movie apart from Inception deserves this. Out of all the nominated movies, it’s the one that was the most ground-breaking this year and while many believe ground-breaking is not a criteria to warrant a best picture win (I still think Avatar was snubbed last year), in this case it does because Inception is a masterpiece.

Read up on my reviews of Inception and The King’s Speech.

Leading Actor:

– Who will win: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech


– Who should win: James Franco for 127 Hours


This category has 5 nominees. One of them has a 99% chance of winning, James Franco has a little less than 1% and the rest is divided among the other 3. Colin Firth has led a remarkable campaign and if he doesn’t win this tomorrow, it will be the biggest upset of the evening. While brilliant in his portrayal of the stuttering king, I believe James Franco had one of the best acting performances of the year. The whole movie he’s nominated for is built upon his performance, so much in fact that removing his performance out of the equation would render his movie bland. Colin Firth’s performance, while still remarkable, relied heavily on his interaction with Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, which makes Franco’s solo act the more fascinating.

Read up on my review of 127 Hours.

Leading Actress:

– Who will win: Natalie Portman for Black Swan


– Who should win: Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone


With acting, it’s ultimately a matter of taste. I believe all of the nominated actresses are deserving of a win and it ultimately comes down to the role you preferred and out of the nominated five actresses, the one that struck a cord with me was Jennifer Lawrence in her portrayal of the struggling teenager in the dark Winter’s Bone. Natalie Portman is winning this, the only dark horse being Annette Bening for The Kids Are Alright.

Read up on my review of Winter’s Bone.

Supporting Actor:

– Who will win: Christian Bale for The Fighter

– Who should win: Christian Bale for The Fighter

To think this is the same man who played Batman in Nolan’s reboot of the franchise is daunting. He portrays his pale, drug-addict character brilliantly. He has already grabbed most of the awards related to this category and he’s the obvious frontrunner.

Read up on my review of The Fighter.

Supporting Actress:

– Who will win: Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech


– Who should win: Amy Adams for The Fighter


Out of all the acting categories, this looks like it’ll be the closest one. Up until very recently, Melissa Leo was viewed as the obvious frontrunner in this but leading an Oscar campaign, where she printed out posters calling Academy members to vote for her, has left some people turned off. Add to that an exponentially increasing momentum for The King’s Speech coupled with a BAFTA win for Helena Bonham Carter followed by a brilliant speech and you might have a recipe for an upset. Regardless of that, my favorite out of the bunch remains Amy Adams for her role as the girlfriend trying to guide her significant other to find himself. A very plausible dark horse in this race is the young Hailee Steinfeld who, in my opinion, should have been nominated in the best actress category for her role in True Grit.

Best Director:

– Who will win: David Fincher for The Social Network

– Who should win: Christopher Nolan for Inception

The person who should win this isn’t even nominated. Yes, I’m glaring at the non-existent Academy member that might end up reading this. And for that, this category is almost a lock now for The Social Network’s director even though it looks like Tom Hooper, director of The King’s Speech, is giving him a run for his money.

Read up on my review of The Social Network.

Animated Movie:

– Who will win: Toy Story 3

– Who should win: How To Train Your Dragon

I’ve honestly enjoyed both movies and Toy Story 3, being nominated for best picture as well, is winning this. But my heart goes to How To Train Your Dragon, an animated movie inviting everyone to break away from stereotypes and closed bubble that society enforces upon us.

Cinematography:

– Who will win: Inception

– Who should win: Inception

No other movie deserves these technical awards because, simply, Inception was groundbreaking.

Film Editing:

– Who will win: The Social Network

– Who should win: Inception

Inception, again, isn’t even nominated here. But can you imagine watching that movie if the editing hadn’t been as top-notch as it was? It would make the near-incomprehensible movie basically “Einsteinian”. Out of the nominated movies, two come to mind with strong editing and those are: The Social Network and 127 Hours. In the latter, strong editing serves as a way to take the character away from the two rocks between which he’s stuck, allowing for some really good double-camera work and allowing the viewer to further immerse himself in this story to which he already knows the ending, making it even more fascinating to watch. The Social Network has some really great editing as well as it tells three different stories going on at different times and manages to merge them together in a very coherent way. I believe, because of buzz, The Social Network has the edge.

Visual Effects:

– Who will win: Inception

– Who should win: Inception

Even though Harry Potter is nominated for this and my heart wants it to win, the clear frontrunner here is Inception. And it’s not my bias speaking: an upside-down city, dream within a dream within a dream within a dream construct, a whole glacier-like city in limbo… no other movie deserves this as much as Inception and it will win it.

Adapted Screenplay:

– Who will win: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

– Who should win: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

The Social Network’s strength is its screenplay. It’s witty, fast and engaging. Aaron Sorkin deserves this.

Original Screeplay:

– Who will win: David Seidler for The King’s Speech

– Who should win: Christopher Nolan for Inception

I think this could go either way between both names. Inception won at the Writer’s Guild Awards but The King’s Speech was not eligible for a nomination. I want to see Christopher Nolan win this but I have a feeling it will be another casualty of a King’s Speech sweep.

Original Score:

– Who will win: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross for The Social Network

– Who should win: Hans Zimmer for Inception

After winning the Golden Globe, I believe The Social Network’s score has the momentum to take this. But I still stand by the brilliance of Inception’s score. Hans Zimmer has come up with a masterpiece that isn’t being recognized enough.

There are many more categories, of course, but I believe these are the ones most people care about.

The Social Network – Movie Review

Who hasn’t heard of this movie? Or at least what the movie’s about?

Facebook.

A movie about Facebook could easily have been boring. After all, many of Facebook’s users are boring: useless status updates, posey-pictures, pointless comments…

But get an interesting topic, a director who has already given a cult-hit (Fight Club) and a very, very strong screenplay and the result is riveting.

The movie tells the story of Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and how he made Facebook, the details of his invention, all the “dirt” that we don’t know about, the enemies he made along the way and his ingenuity.

It’s ironic that the person who made Facebook – the most active and important social network today – is really, not a douchebag as the movie portrayed him in some instances to be, but mostly socially awkward.

The movie’s screenplay, written by Aaron Sorkin, is snappy, smart, fast and really engaging. The first few moments of the movie: a conversation between Mark and his girlfriend is purely based on that: dialogue. It’s such an intense dialogue that those few minutes draw you in and from there forward, there’s no dull moment. The movie is mainly talk-driven. And it doesn’t get unbearable.

The movie jumps around time periods. It does not follow the order of how everything happened chronologically but it’s very easy to understand what’s happening. I mean, this is David Fincher, the guy who brought the world Fight Club we’re talking about.

Even though, as I said earlier, Zuckerberg is not portrayed in the best of fashions, he makes up for a riveting character portrayed very well by Jesse Eisenberg. This is his breakthrough role no doubt.

And for those who thought Justin Timberlake was not capable of serious acting performances, this movie will prove you somewhat wrong. He’s not brilliant but not atrocious either.

Andrew Garfield, portraying Zuckerberg’s best friend Eduardo, does an immense job at that. The contrast between his character and Einsenberg’s is so obvious that it’s difficult to think how the characters are friends in the first place.

The soundtrack is hypnotic. Not my favorite soundtrack of the year but a pretty great one no doubt by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Several songs in the movie are not featured in the soundtrack, the main one being the song played in the California night club scene. So if you’ve been searching for it, it’s Sound of Violence by Dennis De Laat. The soundtrack has already won the Golden Globe.

The Social Network is up for 8 Academy Awards, including best picture. It has already won the Golden Globe for best motion picture – drama. It’s one of my favorite movies of the year – and it’s a must watch for every Facebook user.