In the Picture
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Rated MA 15+
Mystery, suspense, drama and dark, dark family secrets. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a Swedish film based on the first book in Stieg Larsson’s best-selling ‘Millenium Trilogy’ (the original novel was titled Men Who Hate Women). Made by Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sets a new standard in cinema female heroes. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has garnered much international attention as the punk computer hacker/researcher who is drawn into a tense relationship with the craggy investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). This unlikely couple is engaged by the former CEO of a Swedish industrial family, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), to discover the fate of his beloved niece Harriet who disappeared 40 years ago. Lisbeth is a socially damaged woman who carries own secrets into this work, as she and Mikael uncover terrible truths in the Vanger family.
Coming from a long fascination with the suspense of Hitchcock’s works, this film resonates with the old master’s movies, as it does with Antonioni’s Blow Up and De Palma’s Blowout. In the former photography was the investigative tool, in the latter it was sound recording, and here it’s the computer. The online detective hunt of google searches, emails, accounts, statements, journals and photoshopping, together with an intensive paper chase, all burrow into the insidious crimes within the Vanger family.
This is a wonderfully complex film. The engrossing detail and nitty-gritty of the investigation of Lisbeth and Mikael slowly unfolds a monstrous story. There are however some disturbing scenes in the film, which have generated a degree of criticism (...don’t take the children along), but it should be acknowledged that Lisbeth gives as good (or as bad) as she gets. She is a torn woman who refuses to be a victim.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a fascinating drama that puts all the right cinematic ingredients together: the story, the direction, editing and acting; perfectly set in the clean cold Swedish landscape, with sparse brooding music, and twists and turn throughout.
Swedish productions of Larsson’s two other novels from his trilogy have already been made starring Rapace and Nyqvist, but the international popularity of the novels has attracted considerable Hollywood attention, and it appears that some American replicants may be in the big production pipeline. But the centrepiece of this film is the mesmerising performance of Noomi Rapace, and it is difficult to imagine anything improving on that show.