It might not officially be The 12 Days of Christmas, but FILM IN WORDS will still fill your festive viewing schedule with cheer. From beloved movies that have become an irreplaceable holiday tradition to cult and lesser known Xmas cuts that promise to subvert and haunt your holidays, there’s something for everyone all the way up to Christmas Eve. On day three we journey to Fincher’s unforgiving land of ice and snow.
Words: Brody Rossiter
“The feel bad movie of Christmas.” This statement of intent was the tagline which accompanied David Fincher’s 2011 English language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Ultimately, Fincher made good on the marketing campaign and kissed goodbye to 2011 with a relentlessly dark and typically stylish flurry of filmmaking.
Consuming the novelistic and original filmic adaptations that preceded his own offering, the auteur of crime and grime’s entry into the Millennium Trilogy crafted its own twisted mystery that comfortably sat beside the deadly sins of Se7en, and cryptic neo-noir of Zodiac – whilst also exhibiting a far more polished and clinical aesthetic.
Recruited by a wealthy industrial magnate, and aided by hacker come cyber-punk Lisbeth Salander, disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist must investigate the indecipherable disappearance of the Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet Vanger, forty years prior to the films events. Thus begins a tale of bloodlines poisoned by vicious secrets and cruel intentions.
A brilliant casting combination of Daniel Craig as the weary Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as jet black, cyber-punk hacker, Lisbeth Salander, is cultivated until it grows to become the force of nature which pulls the narrative through the relentless blankets of snow and shadowy interiors. Mikael and Lisbeth’s complicated relationship steers both the hunt for truth and their individual journeys; Lisbeth combing through corporate record rooms as Mikael moves within touching distance of a suspected killer – a scenario perfect for cultivating tension whilst highlighting the pair’s vulnerability when without one another.
A special mention must also go to the film’s highly unusual soundtrack. After procuring an Academy award for their efforts scoring Fincher’s, The Social Network, Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor returned to sonically embellish upon The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s already oppressive atmosphere with waves of fuzz laden distortion and xylophone led death dirges.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo may well be a long dark trip into a frostbitten abyss, offering very few, if any, moments of relief depending on your constitution. However, this does not interfere with chillingly believable characterisation, a thrilling plot and an experience that will undoubtedly drag you kicking and screaming through numerous emotional confrontations. If you like a side of doom and gloom with your festivities you could do much, much worse than this contemporary descent into a dark, deadly secret.