Magazine January 23, 2012, Issue

You Can’t Go Home

Charlize Theron in Young Adult (Mandate Pictures)

One of the early trailers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the David Fincher adaptation of history’s most successful Swedish potboiler, promised “the feel-bad movie of the year.” It was a good line, but it wasn’t truth in advertising. Despite its long parade of rapes, assaults, and serial murders, The Dragon Tattoo in all its iterations (the Stieg Larsson novel, the Swedish film, and now Fincher’s version) is fundamentally a conventional revenge fantasy: Dirty Harry for nerdy Marxists, you might say, in which a left-wing journalist and the leather-clad lesbian computer whiz who sleeps with him mete out long-overdue

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