The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The film is based on the first of a series of books by Stieg Larsson called The Millenium Trilogy. I must admit I have not read the books so I went in to the film blind. I came out convinced that this was an exciting but tough film and I am eager to read the books or at least see any further films.

Poster for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This is an exciting thriller. The plot centres around the case of a girl who went missing over 40 years ago. A disgraced crusading-journalist named Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is hired to investigate the disappearance by the girl’s industrialist grandfather. The journalist teams up with a bi-sexual computer hacker, Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) to trace the truth.

I won’t reveal anything else as this is a thriller. If you’re 18 or above, just watch it.

The original title of the book this film is based upon is The Men Who Hate Women. This title sums up the film succinctly and explains why it is an 18. Be under no illusions, this is a tough film and there are few decent male characters. The sexual violence is disturbing but it all helps to make the action more gripping and adds to the themes of the film and made me care for the central duo all the more.

This film is a modern day gothic horror. It is packed with spooky houses, family secrets, the contrasts between public and private, day and night, light and dark – scratch beneath the veneer of a modern western society and see the degeneracy beneath – the corruption in the countryside and the modern city.

The film also shows the power of research. Lisbeth and Mikael root through files, photographic records, tax receipts, through the internet and through collective family memories. I gained a lot of satisfaction watching the duo piecing together the story – one simultaneously exciting and chilling scene being a series of photographs where the victim is seen.

Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Tattoo - Lisbeth

Both Lisbeth and Mikael are portrayed brilliantly by Rapace and Nyqvist. Lisbeth is the real focus of the movie, despite seeming so vulnerable, she is a tough customer and a survivor but it doesn’t make the violence any easier. Mikael is more of the sidekick but a great character nonetheless.

It is interesting to note that rebel computer hackers and intrepid journalists use Google, Firefox and Apple iBooks. The computing stuff looks accurate – nothing flashy, just reams of code and research using Google.

To sum up, this is an excellent thriller. It’s grim and intimidating but the final 30 minutes is gripping and powerful stuff. It shames the cartoonish violence of typical American movies that I have seen this year, the darkness and intelligence beating a lot of Hollywood thrillers at their own game. An American remake is in the works – just see the Swedish original.

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