December 22, 2011

Queer Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian. Based upon the novel by Stieg Larsson.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson

David Fincher's remake of the Sweedish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is, strangely enough, darker and more daring than the original. Even more notably, Fincher's version includes a rare and slight, but arguably significant, case of queering up.

Having recently been convicted of libel, disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) finds himself being offered the job of investigating the 40 year old disappearance of Harriet Vanger (Moa Garpendal). Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) believes that Mikael has a chance where everyone else has failed. Reluctantly and only because of his recent conviction, Mikael accepts the task. While investigating the disappearance, Mikael comes to believe that Harriets disappearance was related to a serial killer whom Harriet may have discovered the identity of. Because of this discovery, Mikael decides to seek out the help of the hacker Lisbeth Salander, whose punk attitude helps her to hide her own dark past. Together these two find themselves wading into deeper and more disturbing waters regarding the Vanger families violent history.

The Queering
It is rare for a Holywood film adaptation of previously established material to retain anything queer about the original characters, if such queerness existed. It is therefore extremely refreshing for me to be able to state, that not only is Lisbeth still bisexual in this remake, but we see more girl on girl action then in the original. Not a lot granted, but not a lot was shown in the original film, which only had one brief shot of Lisbeth waking up next to a female lover. In Fincher's remake, we see Lisbeth not only picking up another chick in a bar but also sharing a brief kiss with her when Mikael shows up to ask for Lisbeth's help. I know it's not that much but to my knowledge this queering up of sorts places Fincher's remake in an elite catagory. A category, that as of this writing, only contains one other film, V for Vendetta.

Not only that, but as in the original, Lisbeth gets to save Mikael not once, but twice. The one time that Lisbeth ends up in a tight spot, she saves herself by turning the tables and blackmailing her assailant.

For those who think they misread that, let me reiterate. A bisexual female heroine not only gets to save the straight male protagonist (twice!), she never once needs to be saved by him. Remarkable is it not? Usually it would be the other way around.

While not quite as remarkable, there are other characteristics of Fincher's remake that are also unusual. These being that the violence and sexual content has been upped. Increasing the violent content is not that unusual, but the upping of the sexual content, which in this case includes anal rape and other forms of sexual assault, is almost unheard of. Usually, Hollywood remakes tone done anything that could be considered disturbing or offensive, but here Fincher does the opposite. His The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is not only different, it is a whole lot darker.

Boiled down to it's essence, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a traditional detective story but the characters, particularly Lisbeth, give it a much different feel. Played here by Rooney Mara, Lisbeth's hard exterior is a front to hide her difficult and violent past, which is never explained in detail but we are given enough of the broad strokes to be able to fill in the gaps. Daniel Craig gives a low key, but rather decent performance, not once did I find myself thinking of a certain James Bond.

Overall, Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is not only is able to stand on it's own, but actually manages to tackle bolder material than was covered in the original. Certainly that can be considered the mark of a great remake.

Getting a tattoo can be both painful and expensive, but both pain and money are worth expending in order to see this movie.

The Rating


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1 comment:

  1. He might have given unnaturally overhyped Se7en and "Social Network"...But this one s truly amazing....
    Definitely,a collector's item


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