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rochefort [Film Festival 03.13.10] Sweden movie review thriller

Year: 2009
Directors: Niels Arden Oplev
Writers: Nikolaj Arcel / Rasmus Heisterberg / Stieg Larsson
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 8 out of 10

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Niels Arden Oplev's adaptation of the first book of Stieg Larsson's "Millenium Trilogy", is a crackin' thriller in which Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a recently disgraced journalist, and Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a lesbian hacker with a history of violent mental episodes, are hired by the patriarch of the rich and elusive Vanger clan. Uncle Vanger wants them to find out what happened to Harriet Vanger, his niece and favorite relative who disappeared from the family's island some forty years prior. In the course of their investigation they discover a labyrinthine conspiracy involving government cover-ups, a series of unsolved murders, brutal rape and Nazis.

Already a major hit in its native Sweden and across Europe ("The Girl Who Played with Fire", the second film, has already been released overseas), this first film is essentially a tight little mystery thriller with a dark-as-pitch underbelly and top-shelf production values. At first glance it may, at least to American audiences, resemble little more than a well-done mystery akin to the sorts of whodunits Hollywood has been putting out consistently since before World War II; there's a dash of Hitchcock here, a bit of "The Silence of the Lambs" there. But the sum of its parts is still both compelling and distinctly European, and results in a tale that takes its time, establishing both its characters and the plot with a welcome and refreshing level of patience and restraint. It's probably also worth noting that the overseas reception to this film (and the resulting hype), may perplex some U.S. audiences who can appreciate its surface virtues but not really relate to some of the core political undercurrents. Apparently this is one of the first films of its kind to inflect a pulpy noir with references to Swedish/Nazi collaborators and secret societies. But if you dig a well-executed, adult suspense thriller, this movie plays like a master's guide on how it's done.

Blomkvist and Salander spend the entire first act in separate worlds, their stories smoothly converging in a manner that feels neither contrived nor hackneyed. Blomkvist is an idealist, the publisher of Millenium, the magazine after which the literary trilogy is named. Less a square-jawed hero than a slightly-clumsy bookworm, Blomkvist dared to try and expose a major corporation as corrupt but got in over his head, and has only a few weeks to solve Vanger's case before he's sent to prison for libel. Salander is a freelance investigator and hacker who tracks down dirt on people of interest for whomever pays the most, and Blomkvist is her most recent target. She's also been bouncing around from one sponsor to the next, as she's on probation for a number of violent altercations, and the most recent sponsor is a real scumbag who threatens to ruin her run of good behavior unless she submits to his harsh sexual fantasies. A key scene involves one of the roughest rapes I've seen committed to celluloid, but what happens after is not only oddly empowering, but also shines further light on an increasingly complex character.

The secret weapon here is, of course, Salander, easily one of the most fascinating characters to emerge in recent cinema, and Rapace's portrayal is pitch perfect. A tattoo-covered, Mac-using, motorcycle-riding Tank Girl by way of Neo (with a little bit of wounded Jodie Foster thrown in), every moment Salander is onscreen the movie just pumps. She's neither a tragic victim nor an excessively brooding shoegazer, and Rapace sells her untraditional sexual psychology, as well as her proficiency with computers and the clues of the case, with alternating degrees of subtlety and intensity. She almost seems like the sort of character we're more likely to see in some cyberpunk action film, but in "Girl" feels entirely real. Salander isn't interested in our sympathy, but earns it anyway, and by film's end we're rooting for her despite the fact that she's still a little scary. Nyqvist plays Blomkvist like he knows exactly who wears the pants in their weird partnership, and his interest in her (both romantic and intellectual) is tempered with a kind of "aw shucks" awe. Together they make one of the best screen pairings in recent memory.

While the pacing may not be everybody's cup of tea (this is less a sensationalist action-thriller than a creepy procedural), "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is still an easy one to recommend thanks to its characters and atmosphere. There's just something hard to resist about a punk Sherlock Holmes, you know? This one should get a stateside limited release sometime this year, and the word is that a U.S. remake is in development, but unless you just can't handle dubbing or subtitles, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

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Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

She's not lesbian: she's bisexual


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

RE: She's not lesbian. You're actually wrong. She does sleep with a guy in the movie (two, if you count the rape), but she considers and calls herself a lesbian (as did the novel's late author). Her reasons for sleeping with men have nothing to do with sexual preference, and are instead strategic. Look it up.


freet (12 years ago) Reply

great movie!


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

>word is that a U.S. remake is in development.

Dear GOD, do they have to ruin just about every new movie, with the "US"less simplifications, the morons can munch at.


JackCrow (12 years ago) Reply

>may perplex some U.S. audiences who can appreciate its surface virtues but not really relate to some of the core...

It will perplex them alright, I'd say "U.S. audiences who can ONLY appreciate surface virtues", suits it better.

>A key scene involves one of the roughest rapes I've seen committed to celluloid...

Irreversible, I Spit on Your Grave, Hora, 8mm are by far worse.
Also this need not be pointed out in a review, as it can only attract sickos.

> A tattoo-covered, Mac-using, motorcycle-riding Tank Girl by way of Neo.
... well as her proficiency with computers.

This is highly debatable, as if you know anything about computers, the "hacking" scenes are ridiculous ( Swordfish ), and not possible.
A person who cannot even check their own drive, I'd call a user, though the plague guy was funny, he also shows a lack of "real" skills.
Neo comparison is also off, as Neo really knows what he is doing ( sort of ), working for whom he is working, and doing his trade off work.

>While the pacing may not be everybody's cup of tea...

I found it perfect, would not change a scene.

>...punk Sherlock Holmes

I'd say she reminds me very much of the role Angelina played in Hackers, but more butch.
Salander has some amazing muscles though, that do not quite fit the lifestyle, and a tattoo also.

The prefect role in the US release would be for Fairuza Balk, as she is a mirror image of her, US style.


Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

reportedly the remake has david fincher nibbling at it.


(11 years ago) Reply

"She does sleep with a guy in the movie (two, if you count the rape)"

Rape isn't sleeping with someone you retard.

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