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.


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3 Responses to “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
  1. Harriet says:

    I’ve read the whole book series and when I saw the film I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment. But then again lots of film adaptations are disappointing (ahem Harry Potter cough Atonement…). Agree with you about the no people under the age of 21 though, although maybe it should be no people under 18? This film is definatley NOT for kids though!
    Harriet´s last blog post ..Sell Your Mobile

  2. Ewa C says:

    You wrote, “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.” I disagree for two reasons.

    The first is that Salander’s character is developed beautifully, albeit in a subtle, underplayed way. It’s developed, but still enigmatic. Why? Because 1) that’s the way Lisabeth is, 2) why is she this way? there is more to learn about her, but it’s left for parts 2 and 3.

    The second reason is that I’ve read most of what is available on the movie in the languages I speak, including interviews with actors, directors, producers, and I know that Rapace played a big role in shaping her character. She fought for playing Lisabeth the way she believed the character should be played. So I don’t think you can say that Oplev didn’t let Rapace play. They developed the character together, but I think Rapace played the lead in the process.

  3. Blake says:

    @ Harriet – Just finishing up the first book now and feel the same way. And the theatre was 21 and up because they serve booze there… my new favorite!

    @ Ewa C – That’s fair enough, you’ve done more research on the film than I have. But I still feel Lisabeth on screen isn’t nearly as complex and multifaceted than the Lisabeth in the books.

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