Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rooney Mara, in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
approximately 55 minutes and 28 seconds
36.9% of the film

The film

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

There are elements I like, for example the original score and the leading performance, and there’s stuff I really dislike: the screenplay, the excessive editing, the lack of focus. It’s one of my least favorite Fincher movies.

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander

In Oscar’s entire history of 84 ceremonies, only 4 times has it happened that the Best Actress category included no first-time nominees (1941, 1944, 1948 and 1994). Except for those years, there has always been a fresh face among the leading actresses; so, based on that rule, it shouldn’t have been surprising to see Rooney Mara nominated. While Tilda was the predicted 5th nominee, Rooney Mara had the Dragon Tattoo love on her side, enough to get her a nomination, but not enough to get the film in for Best Picture.

Rooney plays Lisbeth Salander, a young smart woman with a traumatic past, an outcast who is now quite a computer expert and a great researcher. She gets in trouble when a psycho rapes her, takes revenge on him and in parallel starts working with a journalist to solve the mystery of a woman missing for more than 40 years. It’s a well known character because of the books and the Swedish films, and quite a complex one, because it’s so mysterious and intriguing.

I haven’t read the books, but I’ve seen the original and I thought Noomi Rapace gave a fine performance, so Rooney had some big shoes to fill. I thought she nailed the physicality of the character and the fact that she’s not as pretty as Noomi is (who had a gorgeous face even under all that piercing) was in fact better for the performance – it made her seem edgier, crazier, less humanized.

Her biggest achievement in the role is, to me, leaving the impression that she really understands the character. I felt like she always stayed in, was faithful to the character and never overacted. She didn’t go for flashy, because the role itself was flashy enough. I thought she did well with the accent – I don’t know if it sounded Swedish, but it had a Nordic feel to it, and it was a characteristic that made Lisbeth even more exotic to a foreign viewer like me.

It is not a challenging role by range, but it has enough scenes filled with tension to make the role demanding, even difficult. All the scenes involving the abuse are difficult to watch, which is exactly what was intended and Rooney played the fear and the disgust perfectly. At the same time, the revenge scene is probably her best acting moment. And there there’s the uncalled-for nudity that Fincher obviously wanted: while I disliked the idea, I thought she did a nice job making it look natural and not uncomfortable.

It’s a performance that I respect, because I know not many actresses could’ve played this role. While I think the film fails as a remake, she brings more edginess to Lisbeth and makes it her own: she’s always convincing regardless of the scene, doesn’t compromise to win over audiences, but succeeds in that by simply staying faithful to the character and the mood. It’s.


Deiner said...

She is exactly what I imagined when reading the books. What I like the most about this performance is that Rooney didn’t play Salander as the typical badass character; she played her as someone breakable. I’m happy she was nominated; she was just too perfect to be ignored. And of course, great review. :)

dinasztie said...

I love this performance. :D Our rankings might even be the same after all. :D

JC said...

I just saw her a while ago, and boy, she's THAT GOOD.

She was better than Noomi, IMO. I'm not yet sure if this film was better than the original, but this really kept me at the edge for almost the whole length.