Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher, famed director of the Facebook bio has put his own antisocial serial number  on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".  Fincher,  a master stylist, is well aware of how the lack of color in setting influences our emotional response to film and he delivers a fine interpretation  of the popular Swedish trilogy.The film closely follows its foreign counterpart: Newly disgraced publisher Mikael Blomkvist is hired by a wealthy industrialist to investigate the death of his daughter. Blomkvist  meets up with the Goth and spacey cyber-belle Lisbeth Salander and they begin a cold blooded cat and mouse chase filled with sexual abuse, ritualistic carnage and Nazism. 

Rooney Mara shines as Salander, who gives the iconic performance by Noomi Rapace a newly confrontational slant. Mara is incensed and overtly sexual in opposition to Rapace's existential gloom. It's not that Mara gives an alternate version of Salander so much as she enhances Rapace's emotional dramatic hardware. Salander's violent serpents are brought to the surface and not encrypted here. She oozes danger instead of slumping and slinking. This is Lisbeth Salander 3.0.

From the start, we feel Mara's frisson. With her white moon face and dark hood, she is very similar to Ghostface from the Wes Craven "Scream" franchise. Salander here is as moody and displaced as we expect, but the rage is brought to the surface. She is more visceral: one half Michael Myers maven and one half Dark Knight. This latest film, in contrast to the original, is less process and more punch. It says more about our pop culture and fascination with violence than the previous outing. In this tattooed visit, more things are shown than hidden. 

As Blomkvist, Daniel Craig gives a hard-bitten edge to the driven journalist-turned-detective. Every action seems to hurt him, either physically or emotionally and he gets pummeled often. There are echoes of Robert Mitchum here or even De Niro. This is a man who is uncomfortable and rocks in space, as if the room is too big for his aching body. Time and digital media crease his face. Both Blomkvist and Salander spend more time with laptops than they do person- to- person and this is very deliberate on the part of director David Fincher who manipulated the film "The Social Network" to canon status. Both characters are Zuckerberg valentines. 

The atmospheric soundscapes by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails deliver a detached mood to the cinematography which is all surface and hard edged drear, in keeping with Fincher's visual style. The meditative pauses in the original film are now filled with confined spaces and right-angled shadows. It is no surprise that   Fincher, who directed "Seven" with  its focus on biblically inspired serial killings and hangings, would tread similar ground once more. These seem to be Fincher's own personal keystrokes, as recognizable as Hitchcock's falling man.

The film is as much about Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho as it is Stieg Larsson's enigmatic story of Pippi Longstocking. When the psychopath Martin Vanger puts on Enya before his attack, he is a shade of nightmare cut from the same gaberdine cloth as Patrick Bateman, who gives soliloquies about top 40 hits before each kill.  He is also just as frightening.

If you have any reservation in seeing this update to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" don't worry yourself. Rooney Mara is perfectly shaped to the Salander CAD design, and she well deserves her Academy Award nomination. Her icy looks have longing in them as well as isolation and there is a physical bite to her Munch-like aura. She dances with danger, seeming more Salander than Salander in the original program. Better still, Mara shows us that the virus of romantic rejection is a very human element with or without the gory fractals waiting in cyberspace.

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