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Review: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Dark & Brilliant

The Truth About Music makes every attempt to keep spoilers out of our movie reviews. But, if you’re a stickler for spoilers, I’d move on. If you’re ok learning about some basic plot structure, then you’re safe to read on.

2011 has been a pretty weak year for great movies. While the last few years have been littered with greats like The Hurt Locker, Black Swan and The Wrestler, this year has been pretty bland. Outside of a few gems like 50/50 and The Ides of March, the year hasn’t had the great movie we all wait (and hope) for. With a little over a week to go before 2012 arrives, the movie of 2011 may have arrived.

It seemed as if this movie couldn’t miss. Combining some relative unknowns with a few mid-level stars and then letting cult director David Fincher take the reigns, would ensure this movies success. After all, he did the same thing with The Social Network last year. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is another book turned movie for Fincher and his repeating takes and incredible attention to detail served the movie well.

What makes a movie great is that it brings you right to the edge but never actually pushes you off. Bad movies fall victim to this simple mistake. When the plot line should take a predictable turn, it does. This idea of never actually falling off the edge is clear and present in Dragon Tattoo. Each time you expect a long, drawn out shoot out, the movie takes the less predictable route, changing scenes and avoiding the sequences we’ve seen all too many times.

Rooney Mara

The idea of never falling off the edge is true in many other ways in the movie. The romantic scenes are graphic, but still somehow leave you short of being fully immersed. While you might think that there is something missing, there isn’t. Great movies make you think. They make you wonder what if and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does all of the above.

The actors themselves are quite brilliant in the movie. Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard each give eery performances that pull you to the edge of your seat. Even Daniel Craig proves himself to be better than just another 21st Century James Bond. With great performances all around, the movie rests on Rooney Mara, who, unless you’re a true cinephile, you won’t recognize. If you’re really good, you’ll remember her from The Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend in the movies opening scene. Clearly Fincher saw something in her roughly seven total minutes of screen time to warrant her first starring role. The audience will see why he made the right choice.

It’s tough to make comparisons to other movies, especially ones so different in theme. There was something about this movie that reminded me of Black Swan. There’s the idea of a very strange main character put into a difficult situation that appears to be a lose lose. In spite of this slight relation, it wreaks of Fincher-isms. Even a minute long scene at the end of the movie featuring two characters lying in bed talking harkens back to random scenes in his earlier works.

Let’s be clear about one thing. This movie won’t be for everyone. It features violent sex, gruesome images and a very dark overral story (ironically like Black Swan). If you can stomach it, The Girl With Dragon Tattoo is worth the price of admission and then some. With it’s unique blend of positive attributes, it won’t be a surprise to anyone if this movie reels in quite a few Oscar nominations in the coming months.

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