I’m not big on the Swedish film scene, but “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was a pretty great start to what will hopefully amount to an awesome trilogy. Based on the first novel in the “Millenium Trilogy” by Stieg Larsson that was published posthumously, the film revolves around a journalist (Michael Nyqvist) hired by a man haunted with the disappearance of his beloved 16 year old relative who went missing 40 years ago. He’s intelligently narrowed the murder down to one of his family members, but the evidence is slim.
Why you’ll like it:
Well told story, expertly shot with great performances by the two leads.
The other half of the story is about a young female hacker (Noomi Rapace) who was hired to dig up dirt on the journalist and soon gets caught up in the investigation. Both roles are executed quite perfect in pitch, the gothic techy recluse and the ever-curious writer, both driven by a need to solve the mystery and both for completely different reasons. The result is something of a well-paced detective story that seems to side-track itself, but is expertly directed into highly developed characters instead.
What really drives home every scene is how personal it feels, it’s quite close and intimate and you feel every wrong as if it were your grievance. Unfortunately, this means that the few brutal scenes are quite affecting and stick with you longer and deeper than you may wish. One of the few other movies that accomplished this depth of brutality for me was “Snow Angels” (but not “Things We Lost in the Fire”, nothing comes close to that amazing roll through hell), but what set this apart from “Snow Angels” was that every act of violence served a purpose and is used to a specific end, not just for the sake of making you feel like garbage. Nothing pisses me off quite as much as a film aimed only at dragging you down into the gutter without any recognizable reason or consequence, so the use of every disturbing scene to me is justified and brilliant in the development of a 3-Dimensional character.
Why you won’t like it:
If you don’t like to see the brutal side of life, stay far far away.
I guess if something didn’t work for me it would be the pacing and length, it does tend to take its time but it’s very difficult to fault it for 152 minutes, because the place it takes you is quite worthwhile and no moment really feels unnecessary. It’s a well told story that feeds you the information when you need it. This is what scares me about making this into an American film, I highly doubt it’ll be allowed to breathe and get to all the same emotional developments that were achieved from this Swedish work of art. However, if David Fincher does end up directing it then perhaps not all hope is lost, anyone with “Se7en” and “Fight Club” on their resume gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to professionally narrating a highly sculpted story.
All in all, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was a fantastic experience. I will not soon be forgetting it and hope it finds some great indie film houses to play in. I have no doubt it will be well received and talked about. With any luck we will be seeing the second and third films come out soon enough.
4 out of 5 stars.
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Running Time: 2 hr. 32 min.
Release Date: March 19, 2010