Leigh Paatsch looks for awards season winners.
THE news that Hollywood was making its own pass at the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy books was met with much knitting of brows. Surely those Swedish- made adaptations – top- notch telemovies though they were – set the definitive standard?
How could there be another Lisbeth Salander after Noomi Rapace made the role of the headstrong hacker so ferociously her own?
But nothing has been lost in translation during the making of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And plenty more has been found to deepen our immersion in that famously bleak Millennium universe.
The key here is the controlling hand – no, make that the clinical stranglehold – exerted by director David Fincher.
A proven master of crime procedurals after Se7en and Zodiac, Fincher wisely shies away from remaking the Swedish films. Instead, he re- examines the opening volume of Larsson’s celebrated series for evidence of what the secretive author was really driving at.
The original Swedish title of the first Larsson book is Men Who Hate Women. It is this theme of misogyny, taken to often macabre extremes, that draws us closer to understanding Lisbeth Salander than ever before.
Make no mistake, this anarchic anti- heroine is a mystery unto herself. This is where the casting of the relatively unknown ( and utterly brilliant) Rooney Mara as Lisbeth comes in.
And Mara sets about releasing all the pain, rage and instinctive intelligence bottled up in her character, another jolt to the viewers’ senses is never far away.
Later in the film, when working in tandem ( and sharing incredible chemistry) with Daniel Craig as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, Mara carefully unlocks another perspective on Lisbeth many viewers will not have expected.
In Mara’s hands, the character of Lisbeth has not been softened. Rather, the part has been sensitised and our ability to relate to her anger is all the stronger for it.
Mara’s performance is so powerful – and her interplay with Craig so enticingly encrypted – that the time- shifted whodunnit the pair is investigating is almost a secondary matter.
Almost, were it not for Fincher’s evocative way with an Instagram- esque flashback to the 1960s, and some shrewd contributions from an ace support cast ( led by Christopher Plummer as an ailing tycoon and Stellan Skarsgard as the heir apparent).
Now showing Village and State cinemas