The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo * * * * 1/2
Director: Niels Arden Oplev.
Screenplay: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg.
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Peter Andersson, Ingvar Hirdwall, Marika Lagercrantz.
Swedish Cinema seems to have hit a new high note of late with the successful adaptations of “Let the Right One In” (as well as it’s American remake “Let Me In”) and now novelist Stieg Larsson’s “Millenium Trilogy” (also remade in America). This is the first of the trilogy and proof that Sweden are delivering top quality material at the moment.
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is hired by aged tycoon Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) to look into the 40 year-old disappearance of a favourite niece. Computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) checks out Mikael as a preliminary to his hiring, and is intrigued by the old mystery. The two investigators team up and find themselves pursuing several serial killers.
Former journalist turned novelist Stieg Larsson’s books were released after his untimely death, to remarkable success. Due to such success, they were always likely to be adapted into films. Well, here is the first and it’s a very faithful adaptation. A tightly structured and gripping whodunnit that takes it’s time in revealing the pieces to it’s elaborate puzzle. This film is in no rush and plays out in a way that respects the audience’s intelligence and patience.
Mikael Blomkvist is an endearing character, the moral male to Lisbeth Salander’s feral female. Both genders acting against type in Stieg Larsson’s misogynist world and both Michael Nyqvist and especially, Noomi Rapace are excellent in their roles. Rapace getting the part of a lifetime as one of the best heroine’s to hit our screens for a very long time. She takes no shit and turns the tables on the depraved men of society, who have nothing more on their minds than abuse and rape. Misogyny is a strong theme throughout. Even reflected in the original title of the film ‘Man Som Hatar Kvinnor’, which literally translates as “Men Who hate Women”. It’s a very dark and graphic film that has an escalating sense of foreboding from the get go. The only gripe I have is that, being a major part of the story, the Vanger family are a little on the underdeveloped side. It can often be confusing as to who is who and when the big reveal is made, it doesn’t quite have the surprise or impact it should. However, this is a minor fault in an otherwise taut and well structured thriller.
Murder mysteries don’t come much better than this. Thoroughly rewarding stuff.