Unless you've been hiding out under a rock, you've probably heard of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, written by the late Swedish journo-novelist Stieg Larsson. The conclusion to the book trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, just came out earlier this year. All three novels are international sensations, and I admit, I bought a copy of the opening number to see what all the fuss was about. But, as it goes, I never got to read it, and now I'm not sure if I ever will.
In 2009, a Swedish version of the movie was released. Like its source material, the film received excellent reviews. Performance-wise, Michael Nyqvist (Mikael) and Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth) both acted their characters perfectly, so I've read. The tone of the movie was on par with the book, and all around it's grossed loads of money, if you want to measure success that way. Knowing that Hollywood would be releasing a (likely dreaded) adaptation soon, I decided to rent the foreign film and watch it on Friday night. (The movie is in Swedish, but subtitled in English.)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a layered story. Chiefly, journalist Mikael, recently indicted on several accounts of libel, is contacted by the wealthy entrepreneur Henrik Vanger. Forty years ago, Henrik's niece, Harriet, vanished, and ever since then Henrik's obsessed over her disappearance. He hires Mikael to try and uncover what happened to her. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander, a modern-day punk with a troubled past, has been hired to hack into Mikael's computer and keep track of him. Eventually the two's paths cross and from there the film evolves.
This summary is a rough review at best. There are several things going on throughout the movie, and the disappearance of Harriet Vanger takes the back burner. The list of suspects is large, and the film takes time to investigate most. In America, this stuff would largely be overlooked, I think. Hollywood seems too bent on churning out action and memorable climaxes that not enough time is spent on the rising action. In Sweden's movie industry, at least with this film, this is not the case. The plot slowly unravels, inviting the viewer to learn more about the protagonists and their lives. The whole time I was wondering what happened to Lisbeth in her past? Is Mikael as "good" as he's portrayed? Characterization is truly the main driving force behind the movie.
Lisbeth is a highly fascinating character. Immediately you can tell she's got something going on with her. She comes across as cold and uncaring to nearly everyone. She's obviously smart, being her career choice, but how smart? She's a character with a past that's strongly affecting her every action, and I was interested to explore her more. Add Mikael to the mix, who's a bit more open to conversation, and dynamic between the two is amusing.
Stylistically, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a dark film. Part of this comes from Lisbeth's wardrobe. Part from the cold, deadly grip of Sweden's winter. Most of it's from the darkness that's becoming more apparent as each minute ticks by. Incredible acts of violence, some very graphic, and you can't help but feel a pang in your gut. By the end of the movie, I remarked how sick and disgusting some things were, and Keisha agreed. Yet, despite this grisly nature, the movie is great. The real world is not peaches and sunshine. It's not hard to imagine every dark action taking place outside of the film, and it's a tragedy that such things happen in our world. The movie is graphic, as I've said, and borderline Realistic, but that culminates in making the film even better.
After watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I can't help but wonder how the final two books pan out. What's in store for the two fascinating protagonists? Furthermore, I wonder now if it's even worth reading the book after watching the film. What was omitted? Would a Wikipedia summary suffice? I'm not sure, and if any of you could tell me, let me know. Overall, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was an exceptional movie, filled with mystery, tension, and unforgettable characters. It's dark, but in my opinion there's enough light shining through the shadow to make it worth your while. If you're going to watch it, I'd recommend doing this version instead of waiting for the Hollywood atrocity that's bound to happen.