The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Not Rated-but very violent in three
[??]-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
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
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.
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
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.