The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
April 26, 2010
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The Europeans have a lot more patience when it comes to films and their lengths. It takes an attentive American to enjoy European cinema. Most of us complain about subtitles, pacing, and violence, but for us few who go the distance, we are rewarded. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those rewards. I’m glad I stuck in there.
Based on the best-selling book by the same name, it follows Mikael Blomkvist, a journalism recently convicted of libel against a major company. He is met by a man who has a job for him. Since Mikael has 6 months before he begins his sentence in prison, he is offer the job as a way to kill the time before he goes. A rich man wants to know who has killed his niece in 1966. The girl with the tattoo is Lisbeth, a 24 yr old hacker who works for a security company while on probation. She’s hired to investigate Mikael, but ends up working with him when he catches on to her following him. What unravels is a classic murder mystery, one where the closer they get to the truth, the more resistance.
Like many other films based on the written medium, there are dead spaces. Spaces that would be enriching as a reader end up boring to some watchers. This is usually those moments in the film when narration or montage is ideal to keep the audience engaged. The biggest thing that disappointed me was that the title character was not the lead character, I found that rather perplexing. The center of the film is on Mikael and his investigations into the murder/disappearance. Another thing that plagued me was the Lord of the Rings ending style. It seemed to wrap up things 5 different times before the credits rolled. Of course, I knew that this was only 1 film in a trilogy, so my idea of leaving unanswered questions may have been asking a bit much of the first in the 3 films. Nevertheless, it succeeds where it counts.
The woman who plays Lisbeth embodies her role so well that I will have trouble thinking of her as anything else. Her awkward beauty and lack of back-story made her a joy to watch. In every scene she has, we look to see if she’ll finally open up to someone. The violence in the film, though sparse, is quite dark and visceral. Not necessarily graphic, but emotionally heavy. The way she handles the injustices of her parole officer had me cringing and cheering simultaneously. As a whole, it’s a good movie. Being in Swedish may dissuade some, but this is going to be 10 times better than the inevitable American remake. A good movie to coerce people into being more accepting of foreign language films. 3 out of 5 stars.