“She’s different” says Stieg Larsson of his mysterious and stalwart heroine Lisbeth Salander in his wildly successful “Millennium” trilogy. Larsson’s words helped his readers capture the essence of Salander and set a near insurmountable challenge for the young actress who would have to play her in a movie one day. The ominous task of lifting Salander’s wild spirit off the pages was put in the hands of well-respected director David Fincher and newcomer Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The story follows Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigate journalist recently found guilty in a libel case against the very wealthy industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Blomkvist is chosen to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy Swedish patriarch’s grandniece Harriet, in exchange for incriminating evidence against Wennerström. Blomkvist is joined by the damaged and mysterious Lisbeth Salander (Mara) and the two begin a tumultuous and dangerous investigation.
From the moment Mara is on screen, you’re addicted to her. The way Fincher shot her first scene makes you feel the anticipation and hype surrounding her. Mara’s ghostly make-up and cold eyes intrigue you from the moment you lay your eyes on her. You begin to wonder what her story is, why and when did her she get her piercings and the large dragon tattoo wrapping around her left shoulder.
As the story begins to unfold, the sexual tension between Salander and Bloomkvist increases. The chemistry between Craig and Mara is electrifying and when the two are in a scene together, it’s though you can almost see the sex, and-dare I say-love between them. The two characters not only have an intense chemistry but also a palpable compatibility rarely seen on film. It’s as though neither would be complete without the other.
The glue that holds the film together is the staggering and brave performance from Rooney Mara. From the first moment she is onscreen to the heartbreaking look on her face in the closing shot, she is astonishing. Mara adds layers to Salander that aren’t easily detected in Larsson’s novels. In addition to perfectly portraying the tough as nails attitude, Mara also adds an intriguing layer or heartbreak and quiet sadness that makes you wonder-what has happened to this girl? Mara, pardon the cliché, literally disappears into the role and embodies every little aspect of Salander-a truly magnificent performance.
Craig leads the film more than adequately. His role is meant to be a much more subtle character than Mara’s and has a much lighter tone overall, which leads to the perfect mesh of the two. “Tattoo” is also rich with successful supporting performances from Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgaard, Robin Wright, and Joely Richardson.
The film’s success can also be attributed to the stunning direction from David Fincher. Beginning with the lavish opening sequence, you truly feel Fincher’s passion in every scene. Fincher’s direction is beautifully accompanied by the haunting score of Trent Renzor and Atticus Ross, which acts as an adhesive for a near perfect film.
Upon leaving the theatre, you may not feel the initial impact of this masterpiece. But as you continue your day you’ll begin to feel Lisbeth Salander is with you, like a friend of yours. Once she gets in, you won’t be able to get the girl with the dragon tattoo out our your head