The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo movie as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothThe question rolling around in the back of many heads all year, including my own, was can Rooney Mara pull it off?

Can she bring the same intensity to the character of Lisbeth Salander that Noomi Rapace did in the original Swedish film; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The only way this American version directed by David Fincher is going to succeed is if Rooney delivers. Luckily for all of us she does just that. The film as a whole has some faults but you can’t blame that on Mara. She did her part.

The story revolves around a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) hired by a wealthy industrialist (Christopher Plummer) to help solve the mysterious disappearance of a young woman that took place 40 years ago. Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is a 24 year old computer hacker who has been a ward of the state since she was a teenager. Lisbeth is moody, eccentric, angry, and quite brilliant. Her own life is shadowed in mystery and to say she has suffered is an understatement. Blomkvist takes her on as an aide in his investigative journey. Together they begin to unravel clues that lead them to a dark world of family intrigue, secrets, and possibly murder.

Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, this version follows pretty closely to the Swedish film except it has more familiar faces and no subtitles. Hollywood understands its customers. Most want to watch a movie not read it. Thankfully they brought in Steven Zaillian to write the screenplay since his list of credentials is as solid as any person in the biz. David Fincher as director was a grand choice too. This movie needed someone able to deliver the raw edge without it becoming sensationalized or gratuitous; all the while keeping the volatile under current.

Craig has done little to brag about since 2006’s Casino Royale. This will be the very role needed to get him some accolades. He does a near perfect job in this one. He is believable as the journalist on the brink of losing everything. His face conveys a lot of what Mikael would be feeling. With all these elements in place the success of the film rested squarely on the shoulders of Mara. Those who loved the Swedish films will accept nothing but perfection from her. Add to that the fans of the books and the expectations sky rocket. Rest assured that Mara gave it all in this performance and will more than likely get notice from Oscar ballots everywhere. Rapace won Sweden’s equivalent to our Oscar and the role needs that sort of commitment.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has it all. Riveting characters with layers of personality, well thought out mystery, action and scandal make this one that will grab you and hold you till the end. It is rated R for good reason; mainly brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language. This is an intense, adult film that is not made for your casual movie goer. I cannot stress enough the visuals that will bombard you. Add to that the dark and depressing life that plagues Salander and you have a film that many will find abrasive and too heavy to handle. Be strongly cautious in your ticket buying decision. As a fan of the Swedish trilogy I can honestly say that they did this justice and I can recommend it with little remorse. Yes they took a few liberties with characters and the biggest issue I had was the final scene. But Fincher gave us warning so at least he was up front with his decision. I give it 4 out of 5 invasions of privacy. Not an easy film to make but they pulled it off with gusto.


Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.