Review - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), NR, 152 minutes - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on Swedish author Stieg Larsson's first novel in his Millenium Trilogy titled 'Men Who Hate Women' (we silly Americans found it necessary to change the title). Many good things have been said about this trilogy, but I have yet to read it myself. I found myself having to decide whether to watch the movie then go back and read the book(s), or add the book(s) to my growing list of things to read and then watch the film at a later date. Two things helped me make my decision:

1) an old college friend Kerri (check out her book blog here) both highly recommended the book and thought I should go ahead and see the movie first (this was a good call, as I'm not the world's fastest reader).

2) the Grandin Theatre, which is about a mile down the road (and the only theater around that ever screens such foreign films) began showing it this weekend.

Suffice to say, everything I had heard and read about the film version was true. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is excellent. It focuses on an unlikely pair trying to solve a 40 year old missing persons/murder mystery. One being a nationally renowned journalist (Mikael Blomkvist played by Michael Nyqvist) who was recently given a prison sentence for libel (it is revealed later that he was set up), and and the other being a 24 year old computer hacker (Lisbeth Salander played by Noomi Rapace) with a tortured history and a sexually abusive legal guardian.

Nyqvist is hired to find out as much as he can about the disappearance from a family gathering of Harriet Vanger 40 years earlier. Her uncle (Henrik Vanger) suspects that she was murdered by someone within the family. The gathering took place on the family property (an island) with only one way on or off - a bridge - that was blocked that day by an accident between a car and a gas tanker. Nyqvist makes some progress on his own, then receives an e-mail providing him with the best clue to the case yet, an e-mail sent to him by Salander. Oddly enough, she had been previously hired (through her employer) to track Blomkvist for Henrik Vanger in order to gather background information on Blomkvist before deciding to hire him to look into Harriet's disappearance. Salander had continued hacking into Blomkvist's computer and discovered biblical references that really pointed him in the right direction.

Both Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace are quite good in the film, but Rapace's portrayal of Lisbeth Salander is what really gives The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo it's emotional impact. There are two scenes in particular that are quite disturbing, but really drive home the emotional and physical traumas that she has been through and give the viewer insight into why she is the was she is.

I am now even more interested in reading the novel (and its sequels) as I am curious as to how similarly the stories play out. If you're a fan of mysteries/thrillers I highly recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Just keep in mind that because this is a Swedish film, it did not go through the standard American rating process. The two scenes previously mentioned would most likely be shot or edited differently in an American version of the film and may be a bit more graphic than one would expect.

Side note: An American version is already in development with a tentative release date of sometime during 2012. It is set to be directed by David Fincher (Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and has been rumored to have such names as Brad Pitt, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Depp, and George Clooney attached to it.


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