Today! Because I want you to help me catch a killer of women –
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Directed by David Fincher (x2)
Starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig (x2), Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard (x2), Robin Wright (x2), Joely Richardson, Geraldine James (x3), Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Goran Visnjic, Elodie Yung, Joel Kinnaman, Julian Sands, Donald Sumpter
I’ll tell you right off – I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, to the point that I never bothered reading the rest of the trilogy. I thought the plotting was interesting, but the writing was kinda dull, and it’s a bit overlong. So my expectations when they were making this movie weren’t super high. I also never watched the original Swedish Noomi Rapace versions – I meant to, as I’ve heard they are solid, but again, didn’t love the book, and then once this movie actually came out, I didn’t want to spoil the (potential, unrealized) sequels.
Of course, I should’ve known this would work, given the David Fincher/murder mystery combo – as I believe I mentioned in #278 Zodiac, it’s his sweet spot. But even before the movie came out, we got that trailer. I genuinely believe that in most instances you can sniff out a good movie from the preview – not always, but most of the time. It seems far rarer that a movie has a terrible trailer and turns out to be okay. But then there’s the case of a movie having a mind blowing trailer, and needing to live up to it. I think the first movie most often pointed to in this case is Ransom, with Mel Gibson, which had an incredible preview (even though it gives away pretty much everything), and turned out fine, but paled in comparison to the three minute edit. Spider-Man 3 is another – coupled with the good will generated by the excellent second movie, that trailer looked awesome. The movie…was not.
So concern was high after the pulsing, hypnotic, Karen O/Trent Reznor “Immigrant Song” trailer – how could they possibly sustain this for two-and-a-half hours? I didn’t really want to throw many videos into these posts, but…
Goodness gracious! And okay, I’m not going to pretend the whole movie is as good as that – this is the best live action short film in the history of the world, topped only, maybe, by 2011’s The Muppets parody trailer (which we’ll get to later) – but this movie is still pretty great, if you enjoy Scandinavian intrigue and giant goddamn tattoos, and really, who doesn’t? Rooney Mara is beyond words amazing as Lisbeth – and the degree of difficulty on this character is extraordinarily high. She has to alternate between extreme fragility, unhinged lunacy, and steely bad-ass, often in the same scenes, and it’s a marvel. How she lost the Oscar to Meryl Streep (in, like, her 40th best performance, as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, which frankly sucked) I’ll never know.
It did pick up four other Oscar nominations, and won for Film Editing, but did not get in the running for Best Picture, even though the category had expanded up to a max of ten by then, and featured such lackluster films as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and War Horse. Boo! And as much as I remember liking The Artist at the time, I’ve never felt compelled to see it again. That is a pretty gimmicky Best Picture choice there, Academy. I’m not sure what should’ve won (Hugo, maybe? The Descendants?), but in retrospect, the French silent film may not have a lasting enough impression on society.
Craig (#226 Munich), Skarsgard (#224 The Avengers), and Wright (#237 The Princess Bride) join the Two-Timers today, while Geraldine James advances to the Threes, following her work in #383 Sherlock Holmes and #328 The Man Who Knew Too Little. Spotlight!