By Alicia Malone
I’m sure by now you have all heard of the hugely popular crime novel, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Spending weeks at the top of many best-seller lists, it’s the first book in the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, published posthumously after his sudden death.
In Swedish, the title of the book literally translates to Men Who Hate Women, which I almost think would have been a better name for the film.
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is in a bit of trouble, accused of libel against an industrialist, which could see him go to jail. So when a wealthy member of the powerful Vanger family calls him to help solve a cold case, he jumps at the chance to escape the media spotlight. The case revolves around Henrik Vanger’s niece, who went missing some forty years ago. Henrik believes foul play was involved, and since his family were the only people on their island at the time, he suspects one of them could be the murderer.
Mikael starts investigating the case himself, but soon realizes he is being tracked when he receives a mysterious email containing some clues about the case. That email came from computer hacker, researcher, and girl with the dragon tattoo Lisabeth Sanders (Noomi Rapace), who agrees to help Mikael solve the case.
Lisabeth has her own problems to escape; her sleazy probation guardian (Peter Andersson) has control of her money, and will only give her some when she gives him “some”… if you know what I mean. And forcibly, I might add.
Together Lisabeth and Mikael set about uncovering the mystery behind Harriet’s disappearance, which turns out to be much more sinister than they could have imagined.
The theme of “men who hate women” runs throughout, with sexual violence against women, and graphic revenge on those men. (The scene where Lisabeth gets back at her guardian is tough to watch)
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is a mix of genres – a gory murder mystery with a slick European thriller vibe. It’s such old school crime caper fun; I almost thought Colonel Mustard was going to appear in the ballroom with some candlesticks.
The standout in the film is Noomi Rapace. She adds heart and multiple layers to what could have been a comic book caricature. Her Lisabeth is rough, smart, sexy and kick ass tough. She’s an interesting heroine, with her tattoos, piercings and gothic look – a sort of new Nikita.
Now I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on how it has been translated to the screen, and I would be very interested to hear what fans of the novel think of the movie. I was able to follow the plot easily, and it certainly didn’t feel like anything was missing. In fact at 2 hours and 34 minutes, it probably could have been tightened up a little bit!
The entire film is in Swedish with English subtitles, but don’t let that put you off seeing it, because the subtitles don’t detract from the story in any way.
Apparently there is an American version in the works, and I’m sure Hollywood will dumb it down and screw it up. So go and see this version while you can; it’s fun, tense and haunting.