The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

By | January 2, 2014

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Not Rated-but very violent in three

Tattoo

upsetting scenes

[??]-There is something compelling about a woman character who

knows her own mind. Someone who doesn’t smile but isn’t

depressed. Knows what she wants and does what she wants but still cares

about others. Who may have “issues” but evokes no pity. Is

fearless. FEARLESS. Think Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) on The Good Wife or

the star of the French film La Femme Nikita (Anne Paullard). But you

have to see Noomi Rapace in this role to believe her. Every look and

gesture count.

The mystery/thriller plot, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson,

keeps one’s eyes glued to the screen with no effort at all. Not bad

for a two hour and 40 minute Swedish film with subtitles. The skilled

cinematography and overall scenic background illuminate the story’s

fascination.

Investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is

engaged by the industrialist and patriarch of the Vanger family to help

solve the disappearance of his niece 40 years before. But not before

Mikael has been investigated by 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander (Rapace),

employed by the security firm Vanger used to check him out.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Lisbeth is an expert at computer investigations, better known as

hacking. Somehow intrigued by Mikael’s situation and the

investigation at hand, she shows up to help him. Lisbeth has suffered

much but has learned to take care of herself without help from anyone.

This woman has single-mindedness and a kind of agency that women

are simply not allowed to have. Is she a feminist heroine? Maybe. She

gives as good as she gets in a way that gives one pause. Regardless,

Rapace’s performance is worth the price of the ticket.

Larsson used several mystery/thriller tropes skillfully. The large

Vanger family live on an island and the only bridge was out on the day

the niece disappeared. So everyone is a suspect and there is a finite

number of them.

A tight creepy group they are and we even once get to see them all

in the living room. Moreover, Mikael has time to take this job because

he’s been disgraced in a set-up and has to leave the newspaper. But

as clues build and unexpected things happen, some themes don’t work

as well.

One only has to mention Stieg Larsson to evoke over-the-top

enthusiasm and loyalty from his fans. It’s unfortunate that he died

so young. The trilogy of books that started with this one will be all

the fiction he wrote. A journalist and self-proclaimed feminist, he was

felled by a heart attack in his 50s, shortly after finishing the third

novel, which hit the stores and the bestseller lists simultaneously.

In Sweden the title of the book and movie is Men who Hate Women,

which some use as proof positive that Larson was really a feminist. But

the story/film cannot be celebrated as a clear cut feminist achievement.

The upshot is disappointing in both content and originality.

As we approach the climax, we’re suddenly in TV land with a

killer and his motive as everyday and misogynist as those that can be

seen on Law and Order or CSI. The titillation-motivated formula of the

murder of beautiful women is a great disappointment. There is a twist

that works well. I haven’t given you a spoiler here. But the

villain’s motivation is not only lame, but used to offer some

gratuitous shots of the aftermath of violence.

Living in the real world of partiality and many magnificent pieces

of art that are short of perfection, I have to recommend this movie and

hope that the Swedes are at work on the second one with Rapace on board.

Director Niels Arden Oplev got it just right. There apparently will be a

U.S. remake next year and there’s every reason to feel ho-hum about

it. Let’s stick with the real thing, for once.

[??]- You should see it-I’d see it again!

[??]- Entertaining but flawed

[??]- It didn’t kill me; see it at a $1 theatre

[??]- Skip it-it’s not worth the popcorn

Note: I have started a blog! Go to: www.madcowmoviereviews.com.

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