The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

3 01 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the best movies of 2011. Set in Sweden and carrying a distinctly dark tone, it features strong acting from its lead actors and an extremely engaging narrative.

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a magazine editor in Stockholm. After being convicted of libel in one of his recent articles, he feels the need to take a break. Fortunately, a wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) has heard about his investigative skills and enlists him to write a memoir.

However, this is no average memoir: Vanger’s family is extraordinarily strange and has a dark past. Specifically, his niece Harriet disappeared from the family’s island in the 1960s. Her body was never found, and it was a clear turning point in Vanger’s professional and personal life.

In order to write the memoir, Blomkvist needs to find out what happened to Harriet. The narrative that follows winds its way through Sweden and other parts of Europe, and the movie becomes darker as Blomkvist digs up more and more dirt on the Vanger family’s history.

While much of the movie revolves around Blomkvist, the true heroine is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who, as you may have guessed, has a dragon tattoo on her back. She’s an expert investigator with a perfect photographic memory. Sadly, she doesn’t often put it to good use.


That changes when Daniel Craig invites her to aid in the investigation of Harriet’s disappearance. Her hacking skills are particularly useful for this case, and the pair quickly find themselves unravelling a devastating family secret.

Lisbeth is a thoroughly unique character, and she ends up being the most interesting part of the movie.

In the eyes of the government, Lisbeth is a social outcast. This is a problem because Lisbeth is a ward of the state, and she depends on government welfare in order to survive. They see her as being unfit to manage her own life, and strictly limit her welfare payments.

Director David Fincher is a master at portraying dark themes. This was seen most notably in The Social Network and Fight Club, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is no different. The long, dark Swedish nights provide an ideal backdrop on which to frame the storyline, and Fincher expertly controls the dark mood and theme throughout.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has something else in common with The Social Network: Trent Reznor scored it. In both movies, the music does an excellent job of giving tense scenes an extra jolt of intensity, and draws out emotion when needed.


The musical score is often undervalued. However, in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s noticeably good.

There are so many good reasons to watch this movie. The fantastic storytelling will keep you guessing to the end, while the character of Lisbeth is equally as engaging. The top-notch acting, directing, and musical score are the cherries on top.

It’s a movie that deserves to be seen – as long as you’re over 18. The 18A rating is warranted, as the movie contains an infamously graphic rape scene and very mature themes.

Good, dark mystery movies are a rarity these days. Having not read the book, I didn’t know what to expect. To say I left the theatre pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

4.5 stars out of 5