What’s weird about David Fincher remaking The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (in theaters December 21) is that we actually want to see it. Basically, it’s easy to get over the remake gag reflex when the remaker in question is the onetime Marin dweller who rose through local film fixtures like Industrial Light & Magic to become the almighty auteur of such artful chillers as Se7en, Fight Club, and The Social Network. Plus, Dragon’s setup suits Fincher’s pervy predilections all too well: In an atmosphere foul with family secrets, sexual violence, and murder, a dubiously disgraced muckraker (Daniel Craig) and a disturbed goth-chick computer hacker (Rooney Mara) form an unlikely crime-solving alliance.
But as long as Fincher is now in the remake racket, why not stick closer to home? After all, movies like The Game and Zodiac show that Fincher’s at his best when skulking through the streets of San Francisco. He really ought to just go ahead and remake Vertigo. True, any filmmaker’s attempt to clamber back up the lofty tower of San Francisco cinema seems like absurd hubris. But Fincher, with his brooding-to-cheeky mood swings and technically calculated methods, is as much Hitchcock’s heir as anybody.
Let’s remember, too, what Vertigo is about: An appealing, acrophobic basket case detective stalks a woman until he becomes totally obsessed with her, then watches her die, then becomes obsessed with turning another woman into her. Not such a far cry from the cyclical sadism inflicted upon Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. And does not the Dragon Tattoo tagline, “Evil shall with evil be expelled,” suggest a sort of circular thinking that might also abet spiraling down into clammy delirium through San Francisco’s hills?
And, of course, Vertigo is ambrosially romantic but also enduringly creepy (see Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). That plus a preposterous plot (see The Game) that doesn’t really matter because the film’s really about the nature of obsession, anyway (see Zodiac), equals something that maybe only David Fincher can do.