Originally, I wasn’t even going to write up a review of David Fincher’s rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because, quite frankly, if you follow me on twitter or if you’ve read any of the GWTDT-related articles that I’ve written on the site, then you already knew that I was going to hate this film. I knew I was going to hate it. So, I figured — what’s the point of me repeating what you already know about how I feel?
So, don’t call this a review because I’m certainly not going to. This is just how I, as an individual viewer with my own oft-stated prejudices, reacted towards Fincher’s remake. Take it for what it’s worth.
I knew that I would hate this film because I so loved the Swedish original and, unlike the people who write for sites like AwardsDaily.com, I am willing to be open and honest about my prejudices. AwardsDaily.com is one of the many sites that decided that the remake would be one of the best films of the year solely because it was being directed by David Fincher and, in their eyes, Fincher can do no wrong. These are the folks who declared that Rooney Mara was going to give the performance of the year before even seeing the film. Why? Once again, the key is Fincher.
See, that’s the dirty little secret about most film reviewers and cinematic bloggers. For the most part, they don’t so much critically review a film as they just jump on the bandwagon. Right now, the bandwagon says that you must love Fincher and, by God, that means you’re going to love Fincher even if the last truly challenging film he made was Zodiac. To his credit, in interviews, David Fincher comes across as being a lot more level-headed and honest than those who are currently insisting that you must love every movie that he directs simply because he directed it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not an attack on David Fincher. David Fincher is a talented director and his films are always watchable. He’s a director who deserves to be seen and his version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is certainly watchable but, at the same time, is it one of the best films of the year as so many of the Fincherites out there are currently declaring?
If anything, this is David Fincher on auto-pilot. This is Fincher being dark because that’s what Fincher does and not because of any sort of sincere artistic impulse on his part. This is a well-directed film but it’s a dreadfully insincere one. If you want to a sincerely dark film, see Zodiac. If you want to see a film specifically designed to appeal to an audience that wants to brag about how brave they are for going to the movies, go see Fincher’s remake of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
The big question, of course, is who is the better Lisbeth — Rooney Mara or Noomi Rapace. Ever since Fincher was first announced as the director of this film, there has been a steady conspiracy to 1) shove Rooney Mara down our collective throats and 2) make us forget that it was Noomi Rapace that made the original film special and that she was truly the only reason to see the two sequels. At times, the conspiracy was almost ludicrously obvious. For instance, as soon as Mara was cast in the role, the editors of AwardsDaily.com suddenly decided that Mara was a lock to get a best supporting actress nomination for The Social Network. Because, the bandwagon logic went, she had to be the greatest actress of her generation or else why would Fincher pick her?
Well, you know what? Rooney Mara does fine playing a girl who happens to have a dragon tattoo but she’s not Lisbeth Salander. She is a male fantasy, a tough girl who needs a man to come through for her. Rapace’s Lisbeth was a true outsider. Mara is a little girl lost and all of you Fincherites out there can watch her and fantasize about rescuing her. Rapace’s Libseth was almost defiantly asexual. Mara looks at the camera and silently asks the male viewer to guess what she looks like without all those piercings. The difference between the two Lisbeths is that Rapace truly doesn’t need a man but Mara is secretly begging to be rescued. One of the strongest and most independent female characters in film history has been reinterpreted as a male fantasy. They should have just called this film The Girl With Rooney Mara’s Face.
I suppose that makes the film easier for patriarchal American audiences to swallow. Perhaps that explains why the audience I was with found it so hilarious when Mara got raped. Nobody laughed when Rapace got raped but then again, that’s because the rape in the original film was a true violation where the rape in Fincher’s version is just further fuel for male fantasies.
As for the rest of the cast — well, can we just be honest and admit that Daniel Craig isn’t that interesting of an actor? His version of Mikael is certainly a lot more aggressive than the character is portrayed in either the books or the original movie. Then again, Daniel Craig’s a big star. Daniel Craig is James Bond. You can’t just expect Daniel Craig to play passive. Daniel Craig’s the man, after all. As for Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer — they’re both great actors but how many times they are going to keep playing the exact same freaking characters?
Ultimately, the only real reason for Fincher’s film to exist is so American audiences can watch the story of Libseth Salander without having to read subtitles.
Enjoy it, America!
As I said before, this isn’t a proper review of the film because I’m prejudiced and you know what — if you didn’t enjoy the original Swedish films, you might love Fincher’s remake and more power to you. You are free to sincerely disagree with me and I will not hold that against you as long as you’re not a condescending toadsucker about it.