The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(Män som hatar kvinnor)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor)
Made in: Sweden
Language: Swedish
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Ewa Fröling, Björn Granath, Ingvar Hirdwall, Lena Endre, Stefan Sauk
Year: 2009

Synopsis: Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, this is the film adaptation of the first book from his Millennium series.

Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is an investigative journalist who has been wrongly convicted in a libel case against Hans-Erik Wennerström (Stefan Sauk), a corrupt business mogul.

At the same time, a lawyer named Dirch Frode (Ingvar Hirdwall), dispatches Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) to investigate Blomkvist and keep the journalist under secret surveillance. Lisbeth is a troubled but brilliant 24 year-old woman with amazing computer hacking skills, and dresses like a complete punk.

Lisbeth is on probation, and has been assigned a new guardian named Bjurman (Peter Andersson). Bjurman takes control of Lisbeth's finances, but also happens to be a sadist/rapist who brutally abuses the girl in exchange for allowing her to withdraw money from her own account.

Dirch Frode works for the powerful Vanger Group, a business entity headed by Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube).

Despite Blomkvist's dire legal situation, Henrik Vanger is interested in Blomkvist's skills as an investigator. He summons the journalist to his isolated estate on a remote island.

In 1966, Henrik's niece Harriet (Ewa Fröling), mysteriously vanished without a trace during the country's Children's Day celebration. Over 40 years later and the absence of any leads, Henrik presumes that Harriet is dead.

Furthermore, he even believes that one of his own relatives is responsible for the murder. The police have long abandoned the case, and the aging Henrik pins all hope of finding closure on Blomkvist.

With only six months before his sentencing, Blomkvist agrees. After he and Lisbeth cross paths, they discover a major break in the case. But as they get closer to the truth, they find themselves hot on the heels of a dangerous serial killer...

The Good: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a solid murder mystery that's very well structured. The backgrounds of both protagonists are very well-developed, and all the elements of the story (plot, character arcs, etc) come together nicely at the end.

Both Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist play compelling, unique characters, and it's exciting to see how their investigation plays out.

The Bad: Not much to grip about here. The connections between the Vanger family members is a little convoluted, but if you're paying close attention it shouldn't be a problem keeping up.

Who would like this film: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is for you if you're in the mood for a solid murder mystery. In terms of plot development, it's not groundbreaking. Avid filmgoers have likely encountered similar dark tales before, but director Niels Arden Oplev does a great job telling the tale.

There are some pretty disturbing sexual scenes, so keep in mind that this isn't for kids. But as explicit as the violence is, it does fit within the context of the story and isn't there just for cheap thrills. The issue of sexual violence is handled with respect and realism, and is a powerful element in establishing themes and characters throughout the film.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be remade in the US in time for Christmas 2011, and will star Daniel Craig, whom I think is a great choice to portray Blomkvist. Michael Nyqvist kind of looks (and dresses) like Craig anyway.

David Fincher will direct the remake, which would be a little redundant because the movie practically is a Fincher film. To get the full-fledged David Fincher experience without having to wait until December 2011, rent the Swedish original and then turn the TINT settings on your monitor until everything looks greenish-yellow.


Now it's a Fincher movie.

But to be honest, Niels Arden Oplev did such a great job that I don't think the movie really needs to be remade by anyone.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first of a trilogy, followed by The Girl who played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden) and The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest (Luftslottet som sprängdes).

(3 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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