The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
When considering foreign film, two countries come immediately to my mind as those at the forefront of the best of world cinema: France, and Sweden. I’m not sure if I turn to the Scandinavian country solely because of Ingmar Bergman, but to me, Swedish film says dark, thoughtful, soulful, provocative. So imagine my pleasure when a new trilogy starts creating quite a buzz, hailing from none other, but Sweden. Not to mention, it’s based on a set of truly great mystery novels that are receiving great praise in the book world. The books are titled the same as the movies, the first of which being The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It stars Michael Nyqvist, as Mikael Blomkvist, a reporter, who begins the film losing a libel suit against a cooperate giant. This earns him a substantial fine, and some time in jail. It’s six months before he’s required to report to prison. During this time, he’s hired by a retired titan of industry by the name of Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his favorite niece decades before. He’s assisted by a tiny, but fierce hacking genius known as Lisabeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who gets interested in Blomkvist and his case after she’s hired to digitally spy on him.
The two enter into a sordid and dark world populated by members of the Vanger family. Two of them were active Nazi during the reign of the Third Reich. And the other family members seem just a greedy and suspicious as their facist relatives. The film is competently directed by Niels Arden Oplev. And the novels were finely adapted for the screen from the novels by Stieg Larsson. However, the direction doesn’t allow Ms. Rapace to develop as a character. A gothic appearance, with a few facial piercings portray what Oplev should have let Rapace show. Rapace is definitely the right actress for the role, but Oplev needs to show more faith in his actors. And while mentioning the competency of the direction, it also behooves to mention that it’s slightly uneven as well. Lisabeth comes with a dark history which is only alluded to in this, the first of the trilogy, through grainy flashbacks of what we’ll assume is her childhood. This flashbacks are so stunning and provocative, they upstage the real time goings on. And we’re forced to wait for the second installment for more explanation.
All complaints aside, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a taut, and thrilling mystery that will provide all the chills and thrills you’d expect. Be warned, however, the subject matter is no joke. This is not a film for children, or any sensitive to barrages of sexual violence. I’m glad I saw this in a theatre that requires you to be twenty one or older to enter. David Fincher has already started casting his American remake. With the likes of Daniel Craig and Stellan Skarsgard signed on (not to mention Fincher himself), I have high hopes. I would prefer, however, that Hollywood just leaves this little European gem alone.