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David Fincher's The Girl Who Played with Fire Review: Suck It Denby, I Beat You By Two Years

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | December 5, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | December 5, 2011 |

If you missed it over the weekend, and there’s every reason you should because, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter even a little bit, New Yorker movie critic David Denby broke the review embargo on David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and decided to it publish it before the December 13th date the studio had set. What ensued was a catty little bitch fight between Denby and drama queen, Scott Rudin, the producer of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. The Playlist procured copies of the email exchange between Denby and Rudin, and here are a few select excerpts:

After Rudin called Denby out for breaking the embargo, Denby responded, in part:

The system is destructive: Grown-ups are ignored for much of the year, cast out like downsized workers, and then given eight good movies all at once in the last five weeks of the year. A magazine like “The New Yorker” has to cope as best as it can with a nutty release schedule. It was not my intention to break the embargo, and I never would have done it with a negative review … So we had a dilemma: What to put in the magazine on December 5? Certainly not We Bought the Zoo, or whatever it’s called. If we held everything serious, we would be coming out on Christmas-season movies until mid-January. We had to get something serious in the magazine. So reluctantly, we went early with “Dragon,” which I called “mesmerizing.” I apologize for the breach of the embargo. It won’t happen again.

Rudin shot back:

Your seeing the movie was conditional on your honoring the embargo, which you agreed to do. The needs of the magazine cannot trump your word. The fact that the review is good is immaterial, as I suspect you know. You’ve very badly damaged the movie by doing this, and I could not in good conscience invite you to see another movie of mine again … I can’t ignore this, and I expect that you wouldn’t either if the situation were reversed. I’m really not interested in why you did this except that you did — and you must at least own that, purely and simply, you broke your word to us and that that is a deeply lousy and immoral thing to have done.

(The entire exchange can be read on The Playlist)

Immoral? Jesus, Rudin: It’s not like the guy slept with your wife or killed your dog, or slept with your dog and killed your wife, and I have no idea how Denby’s review will “badly damage” the movie. On the other hand, it’s clear that David Denby just wanted to be first and broke an arbitrary rule in order to do so and justified himself with empty excuses. Still, it won’t hurt the movie; the only people really affected here are the other movie critics, who have their undies in a bunch because they honored the silly code and now they don’t get to be first and reap whatever benefit that presumably entails, and given the self-righteous anger among many critics, that benefit apparently entails lifelong fame and daily sex with Eva Mendes.

Hey! I want lifelong fame and sex with Eva Mendes! And if Denby is going to break the rules, then screw it: So am I. It’s too late to be first on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — which Denby called “mesmerizing” and “bleak,” by the by — but I can still jump out ahead of The New Yorker on our The Girl Who Played with Fire review. Never mind that I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen the trailer for the first one, and I’ve seen the Swedish version of The Girl Who Played with Fire, and I’m breaking ALL the rules, so that seems like enough to go on.

And what did I think of David Fincher’s The Girl Who Played with Fire? It was good, but not as good as his first film. The visuals were there, Fincher managed to bring the same bleak intensity to the movie, and Rooney Mara continued to build on her excellent performance in the first movie, which I haven’t seen. Unfortunately, the story just wasn’t up to snuff, which is more of a problem with Stieg Larsson’s source material than Fincher’s skill as a director. After the unqualified success of Fincher’s first movie, the sequel felt like a generic knock-off. A superbly directed, masterfully acted knock-off, but a knock-off all the same. It’s still definitely worth checking out in December 2013, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to living up to Fincher’s original.

Today In Mesmerization: The 8 Minute Preview Of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo | 10 Movies that Should've Made an Assload More Than They Did in 2011

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.