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Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

PUBLISHED: 10:22 03 January 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Archant

First it bores you in subtitles, now it bores you in Eng1ish. For most of its 65million readers, the book is a compelling page-turner. So why, on screen, does this murder mystery always seem so dull, so inconsequential, so completely Tuesday afternoon on ITV3, even with some extreme sexual violence thrown in?

Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy is a hot property but a thankless one. Like the Harry Potters, they just don’t fit on the screen. Perhaps trying to make hit movies from awkward material is the challenge that excites director David Fincher: it’s like The Social Network with a little more action, a little less talk and very similar music, courtesy of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

It starts with a nifty credit sequence that shames most of the recent Bond efforts, which raises hopes, but then it lurches into the story and all those expectations quickly drift away. Fincher shoots it well enough.

There are a few really good scenes and, overall, it’s an improvement on the Swedish film version. But it’s still a long old slog, a lot of earnest endeavour for very little reward.

Daniel Craig often makes for a dull and earnest star turn but he is actually rather engaging as Blomkvist, the crusading left-wing journalist. It is his best non-Bond lead performance since Layer Cake.

After a humiliating libel case defeat to one of Sweden’s richest and most powerful businessmen, Blomkvist is employed to investigate an ancient family whodunit by another rich businessman. It’s the murder mystery equivalent of vanity publishing.

In the title role as the pierced, punky researcher who assists him, Rooney Mara is certainly committed, but limited and a touch obvious. It doesn’t help that she bears an uncanny resemblance to chief hobbit Elijah Wood.

People worldwide identify with and love this character, this slight, resourceful woman who will not bow to patriarchy. But her screen incarnations don’t ring true. In the context of this movie’s plot, the horrific rape she endures is entirely gratuitous.

It’s there just to provide a pretext for her to illustrate her defiant, vengeful spirit. She’s also that most marvellous of modern narrative copouts – a master computer hacker who can resolve anything with a couple of clicks on the keyboard: the Girl Who Is A Tattooed Deus Ex Machina.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (18)

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara

Length: 158 mins

**

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