The Girl with the Hornet’s Nest on Fire Tattoo. Directed by: David Fincher. Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Stellaan Skaarsgaard (onliest practicing Squareh that is Scandinavian ac-toor in the business and go-to guy for Norsitude… also evilosity so be warned), cameo by Barbra Streisand (as the fjord).
So… this is what comes of Socialism! The Swedes call their particular brand “erection to resurrection”: cradle to grave. The State assures you a good life by denying you the opportunity for any other kind… and assigns you a name at birth by the way ( it’s “Lars” if you’re a male) or cheekbones that’ll stop a clock (if you’re fee-male). Howsomever, it does lead in the end to fat cat corporate Trimalchios who fancy themselves privileged, ill-bred young women insistent upon illicit sex and pierced flesh, sanctimonious journalists with the time on their hands to poke into other people’s affairs… oh… oh… we already gots that right here in the U.S. and A.? Well, okay. Looks as if the trains run on time, though, so there’s evidently an upside (and we ain’t not got that). Snow-swaddled landscapes, sunless vistas, faceless urbanity, soulless shadows prowling the oh-so-clean streets, industrial detritus testimony to… oh… oh… we gots that, too? Well, hell. How about islands where purring, gouty, avuncular plutocrats keep family secrets locked up along with generations of folly and fascism and intemperate dreams? Manhattan, you say? Well, jeeez, then… why don’t we just go ahead, make our own depressing and tedious chiaroscuro (variously pronounced and just as variously spelt) flicks instead of steal them from the Squareheads? Might check out the remake of Insomnia with Al Pacino (attached, maybe) or the remake of Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal with Steven Segal [S(t)even Se(g)al… think about it!] as Death Walking on the Beach, Angelina Jolie (in leather catsuit unzipped down to here) as the Crusader, and Barbra Streisand as the plague for a better shot at this kind of cinéma dérivé (French for “piracy”).
A distillation of Stieg Larsson’s (See? Told you about the name…) triptych (kinda like three books, only, you know… classy) The Girl Who…Hornet, Dragon, Fire, evidently a hot “read” (to use that word in its new acceptation) these days or was until the films got made at which time we don’t not have to any more… read, that is. This prodigy the Swedes then turned into a trilogy (kinda like three films, only, you know, classy) of movies (same names) available through Netflix and dragging in slow, lugubrious, dispiriting detail the tale (and tail) of tormented truant Lisbeth Sal(am)ander (“born of fire”: Whap! Uh… sorry I had to do that, but you had the glazed look again…), beringed (but, sadly, not be-umph umphed, so whatever sex we may be exposed to is the off-putting kind and anything but erotic… got to be a comedown for Craig, but, hey, that’s acting…) and bespiked, fresh out of a Swedish “institution,” to which a benevolent State has committed her in evidence of dark trauma inflicted upon her earlier. As a parolee, she must report to a lubricious bureaucrat, the paunchy Yorick (no kidding), who extorts favors from his charge in exchange for provisional liberty. Into this sad state of affairs, we introduce an old and lurking murder, the victim a young girl, perhaps another object of Swedish males’ rapacitude. The girl’s uncle Hendrik (Christopher Plummer doing his benign grandpa… again. Sooner or later Plummer’s gonna get this right and snag an Oscar so we can put paid blessedly to the trope) hires reluctant crusading journalist (writes for a magazine called Millennium) Mikael Blomqvist (no wait: that’s Michael Nyqvist. Blomqvist is that Swede ac-toor. Or is it t’other way around? Yeah, sure… name two Swedish ac-toors…) to sift through the evidence, the events and flush out the killer, manifestly a member of the family, all of whom live on Fantasy Island in the dark Norse uplands.
Blomqvist (Nyqvist) isn’t long in hauling up something fishy and enlisting the tortured Salander (Rooney Mara, easily as unappetizing as the Swedish original, Naomi Rapace, in the role, duly fitted with rings and studs and a murderous if understandable rage against manhood) to tease out secure information from the ether. Much sifting of evidence, events; much twiddling of computers; much assuming the electronic genius of an untutored crazy girl; much sinister lowering and glowering by any number of suspects, all of whom appear socio- if not psychopathic. Who done it?
Dunno if I like Daniel Craig in this kind of part. He does his best. The star here is the astonishing Mara, whose transit from sproingy-haired Amazon to blond-wigged siren is jolting and whose capacity to register repressed smolder through features crowded with tin impressed me. Alas, the quality of mystery we lose as the parallel stories (Salander’s past, her present, Blom/Nyqvist’s past, his present) edge out clarity, consequence one supposes of distilling three dramas into a single. Dreary and somber tale slowly unfolding through the peregrinations of watchable characters before a scene of uniformly dismal black night, white snow (good, evil… you got that, right? Not gonna have to smack you again?)… and miss-anthropy (that is, we miss any affection for anthropos, human beings—at least the male flavor—while the prime miss is more andro than gyne).
The Swedish movie was better. pl