But no sub­stance

Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews -

psy­chotics from the miss­ing girl’s fam­ily. Plot points are teased out. Lo­cal colour is un­veiled. But it still feels as if the story hasn’t prop­erly started un­til the point at which most films are mov­ing into their third act.

The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too does pick up pace af­ter that long pro­logue. Fea­tur­ing an ef­fec­tively icy score by At­ti­cus Ross and Trent Reznor – in a style we’ll call light in­dus­trial – and Fin­chily cobalt cin­e­matog­ra­phy from Jeff Cronenweth, the pic­ture has al­most enough sur­face panache to tran­scend its schlocky plot and naive char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion.

But was it re­ally worth the ef­fort? For all Fincher’s fa­mously fa­nat­i­cal con­trol, he can’t dis­pel the stench of half-baked cheese that hangs over the source ma­te­rial.

Mara pouts and sulks with en­thu­si­asm. Her char­ac­ter, how­ever, comes across like a mid­dle-aged lay preacher’s no­tion of a ter­ri­fy­ing sub­ver­sive. Tat­toos? How scary. Pierc­ings? How trans­gres­sive. (Last time I checked, Sa­man­tha Cameron, wife to the UK’S prime min­is­ter, had a tat­too on her own less-dan­ger­ous an­kle.) Craig’s solid per­for­mance fights to es­cape the hard-drink­ing, roughedged clichés of mid­dle-brow crime fic­tion.

Com­par­isons with The Da Vinci Code are, none­the­less, al­most cer­tainly un­called for. The film has al­most enough old-school pen­ny­dread­ful mo­men­tum to jus­tify its com­i­cally in­flated run­ning time. It doesn’t say much, but it passes the time. It’s hugely im­plau­si­ble, but it has a mod­estly sat­is­fac­tory nar­ra­tive arc. We used to say much the same about In­spec­tor Morse.

Tat­too this: Rooney Mara em­pha­sises a point to Yorick van Wageningen

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