After sitting down and digging into the two hours and thirty-two minutes that are The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, one must surely come to the eventual yet immediate conclusion that this is the best damned Roman Polanski film in many a year. Yes, I know, I know, one could easily counter such an argument with the pesky factual annoyance of Roman Polanski having had nothing whatsoever to do with the making of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but hey, that is merely insubstantial folderol in the overall summation that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the best damned Roman Polanski film in many a year.
In all seriousness though, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as Polanski-esque as it wants to be (and I suppose in turn, as Hitchcockian as it wants to be as well), and being the twisting (and twisted) tale of a forty some year old disappearance and possible murder, and the quite draconian attempt at unraveling and unpuzzling said sickly mysterious perplexities, replete with dark and sinister backstories (of both hero and villain alike) and a depraved and overriding sexual perverseness blended dangerously with the ugliest of religious and racial intolerance, is a first-rate thriller full of blood and guts, vim and vinegar, and all that ole proverbial sound and fury so thundered about by those bible barkers of yore. In other words, the best damned Roman Polanski film in many a year.
In all seriousness though (really this time), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a powerfully manicured work of neo-noir, from its insidious start to its breathtakingly refreshing finish. Unable to articulately describe the film itself and all of its myriad parts with any sufficient amount of equalness to the tonal visuality shown and felt while watching said movie, one can only direct people to see the film at the next possible opportunity. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on the first of Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson's international bestselling Millennium trilogy (a tragic figure, having died before seeing any of his work so greatly appreciated as it is today) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (titled "Men Who Hate Women" in the original Swedish) plays out with the decadent aplomb of a story told with giddily nefarious delight by the Devil himself. In other words, the best damned Roman Polanski film in many a year.
In all seriousness though (I mean it this time - no more mention of a certain fugitive Polish auteur and this film's scary resemblance to said fugitive Polish auteur's cinematic signature - at least not til the end), the film, though a million miles away obvious in the solving of the central mystery and a bit heavy handed and confusing in character motivation at times, manages to work on so many levels at once, one tends to forget and perhaps even forgive such flaws and foibles as its obviousness and questionable plot twists in lieu of everything else going on in the multi-layered structure of the film. The film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, much like its title character, can survive almost any and all indignities. What could ruin the legacy of the film though (s well as the second and third films if they ever show up on American shores) is the sad truth that there is already the inevitably sanitized Hollywood remake in the works.
With such names as Brad Pitt, Ellen Page, Johnny Depp, Carey Mulligan and George Clooney being tossed about willy-nilly, one can only imagine the vast differences already inherent in the disparate editions. It is also a sad eventual fact that no matter how talented the eventual hired lead actress chosen may be, none could foreseeably surpass the intense performance handed in by Noomi Rapace as the titular tattooed lady. I just dare Hollywood to reenact Rapace's revenge scenario with whichever upcoming starlet they have in mind - I just dare them (though perhaps the Ellen Page seen in the mostly unseen Hard Candy could pull it off if allowed by the powers-that-be!?).
Though with names such as Fincher and Aronofsky also being bally-hooed about as potential directors, one could still reserve the tiniest of hope that all could work out in the end (maybe!). Then again, toss another certain hat into the directing ring (though only if filmed abroad, considering) we could very well, after all is said and done, end up having the best damned Roman Polanski film in many a year. But seriously, by all means, see the original Swedish version first. It may be the most disturbing film you see all year, but, despite its flaws and questionalities, it will be one of the most unforgettable as well. [05/13/10]