Thursday, May 6, 2010
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO / ****
Distributor: Music Box Films
Release Date: March 19, 2010
Running Time: 152 minutes
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Casting the right actors to the parts is crucial to any movie, but it is even more important for films based on popular literature like Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I admit that I’m not familiar with the source material, but within the first five minutes of the film (the first of a trilogy) I couldn’t imagine anyone but Noomi Rapace in the title role.
Rapace plays Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old computer hacker with a checkered past. She works for a security company, and while her methods and style may be unorthodox, her results are undeniable. Her latest assignment is to investigate Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a journalist who stands accused of libel on a Swedish politician.
Blomkvist is found guilty, and has six months of freedom left until his sentence is to begin. He is given an assignment of his own. Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), an admirer of Blomkvist’s investigative reporting, seeks him out to solve a decades old mystery. Forty years ago, Henrik’s niece Harriet (played in flashbacks by Julia Sporre) simply disappeared. She is presumed murdered, although her body is never found. Since he never had a child of his own, Henrik loved Harriet like his own daughter.
Henrik has been troubled by this ever since it happened, and due to some very specific circumstances, he believes it may have been a member of his family that committed the crime. The Vanger family is very wealthy, and their affairs are extremely sordid. During World War II the three brothers were Nazi sympathizers. The amount of in-fighting amongst the family leads Henrik to believe that a family member would have killed Harriet just to get to him.
These two stories take their time intersecting, and everything leading up to their collision helps build the characters, which is good since they’re going to be around for another couple movies. Once Blomkvist and Lisbeth get together, the movie shifts into high gear and becomes a first rate mystery suspense thriller. It is one of the rare movies that while I was watching I was envisioning how exciting it would read on the printed page.
The twists and turns never feel cheap or forced, and director Niels Arden Oplev keeps up a relentless pace while still taking the time to give each storyline development proper time to sink in. There’s also a strong feminist overtone throughout the film (the translation for its Swedish title “Män som hatar kvinnor” is “Men Who Hate Women”). This is a tremendously well made film that is anchored by incredible performances from Rapace and Nyqvist. They have a unique relationship that that transcends the usual handicaps of the genre. This is one of the best films of the year.
*An American version has already been announced for 2012.
Theater: Ruth Sokolof Theater, Omaha, NE
Time: 845 pm
Date: May 6, 2010