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There are those already familiar with the snow-covered, windswept malice of the Vanger family, through Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy and Swedish film adaptations, and this is where David Fincher’s big-budget Hollywood redo comes a cropper.

Alone, it is an engaging, effective whodunit seeped in humanity’s propensity for cruelty. But its – very recent – forebears’ shadow is never far away.

Dragon Tattoo follows the investigations of Stockholm journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig, breaking further free from his Bond shackles) and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (a career-launching turn by Rooney Mara as the black-clad fuck you-attituded ward of the state, more visibly vulnerable than Noomi Rapace’s 2009 take) into the disappearance of a young member of the well-off Vanger clan. Nazis, incest, sexual violence and corruption all lurk in this family’s closet.

The material is perfect for Fincher, the man who loves ‘movies that scar’. His adaptation has an increased emphasis on the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth, a welcome surprise that shades Tattoo ’11 differently and which is furthered by the film’s differing closing coda.

It’s a stylish thriller that refuses to soften for US audiences the edges of a tale originally called ‘Men Who Hate Women’, but you wonder what the attraction will be for those who know this story already. Whodunits suffer when you know who’s done it.

Good for: Millenium trilogy addicts and those who like their thrillers as black as can be

***



Also out this week...

The Artist

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo | PG | 100mins

A black-and-white silent film, set in 1920s Hollywood when ‘the talkies’ took over as the dominant form of cinema, The Artist is one hell of a gamble. But it’s one that has paid off in spades for filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, his daring experiment – a tribute to cinema, a bygone era, and romance – winning accolades at Cannes and wowing filmgoers.




On general release from December 30.


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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - review and trailer
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