The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Oplev) 2009
I was kind of interested by the trailer so I thought I would check it out. The trailer boasts this is based on a critically acclaimed book now finally made into movies blah blah blah. It’s obvious I haven’t read them and I am dubious of the current crop of bestseller/movie franchises (see also Nicholas Sparks novels, The Twilight Saga, 95% of Michael Cricton novels, etc.)
Actually since I’m on the subject of literary comparisons, this movie’s story structure did kind of remind me in a way of the Hannibal Lecter series. Now let me cut some of you off at the pass right here. No, I am not making any quality comparisons in regards to Silence of the Lambs or Manhunter. I am simply discussing plot structures so chill out. Anyway, in the Lecter stories we have kind of the A plot which follows either Agent Starling or Will Graham trying to catch a killer. Then we have the side plot in which we get the more interesting character that the audience latches on to.
In this movie our Will Graham is Mikael (Michael Nyqvist), an investigative journalist who is going to prison in 6 months following his conviction in a libel case. Prior to his sentence, he is hired by an old tycoon. A family member he loved disappeared from a family gathering 40 years ago. The tycoon hires Mikael as a last ditch effort before he dies to find out what happened. The list of suspects include the many people who were at the family gathering. Our Lecter subplot follows the titular character of the girl with the dragon tattoo Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace). She is a goth/punk girl with a mysterious and checkered past. She is a hacker who works for a security company originally made to spy on Mikael. The two then become unlikely partners in the mystery.
The mystery in this movie is well done. It is not so contrived that you are calling bullshit on numerous plot holes, and it is not so dumb that it is not spelled out for the audience. It is entertaining enough in its own right but really is more the vehicle by which we see Lisbeth interact with people. She really is the main reason to see this movie.
Even though I describe her as a goth or a punk that is not quite accurate. What is probably so great is that she does not fit into some stereotype or category (nor do they really make jokes about her appearance) and is a strong protagonist. She is tough, but not some uber strong amazon crap that Hollywood tries to dump on us. She is intelligent and strong willed, but that doesn’t have to mean she is the female embodiment of Chuck Norris. She has a dark past (mostly unexplored in this movie) yet she is not some emo mope. She is damaged and is sometimes emotional, but she never really lets anything cripple her. Noomi Rapace does a great job as the character and, as Roger Ebert said, it is hard to imagine what actress they would possibly get for the eventual American remake (supposedly David Fincher is eyeing it). It is hard to imaging because this character has to do some shall we say, explicit things in this movie in addition to her acting performance. It is the only thing you can really expect from a foreign film.
This was a movie that really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot but I found myself really enjoying it. I hear the book trilogy is already filmed so I will be interested in checking the rest of it out. If you get the chance to check it out down the road I do recommend it.