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Sweden/Denmark/Germany 2009
Directed by
Niels Arden Oplev
145 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The (2009)

Synopsis: Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist), investigative journalist and publisher of Millenium magazine, is awaiting a jail sentence for slandering a Swedish industrialist, Wennerstrom. In the interim period before fronting to jail, he is employed by another wealthy corporate chief, Henrik Vanger (Sven Bertil-Taube) to supposedly write the Vanger family history. In truth, Henrik wants Michael to research the mysterious disappearance of his niece Harriet 40 years ago. Meantime, mysterious computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) inveigles her way into Blomqvist’s computer and his investigation. Salander has her own problems with a sadistic guardian and a violent past. What the two will unearth is shocking and nasty.

Stieg Larsson wrote three novels in the Millenium series and then died.  How great that all three novels are being made into films as this is story telling, thriller style, at its most rivetting. Having read the book on which Oplev's film is based I declare it to be a most satisfactory, in fact, terrific, adaptation, especially given that the script-writers must have had a big task deciding which plot threads to drop and which to keep in. The result, however, may still be a little convoluted for those not familiar with the original text.

The plot moves along at a cracking pace, following the book’s device of alternating between the two main characters’ lives. Blomqvist plods away trying to get a lead from the copious files Vanger gives him. Salander does battle with her new guardian, while spending time hacking into Blomqvist’s computer as part of a job given her by her employer, Milton Security, who are looking into the Wennerstrom libel case. Both are isolated and lonely in their own way. Finally Salander makes contact with Blomqvist, the two meet and pool resources from which point the pace cranks up yet another notch.

Nyqvist has been in a swag of mainly Scandinavian films, and he’s the perfect Blomqvist, just as I imagined him in the book. And the same goes for Salander, with Rapace perfectly cast as the decidedly odd young woman who has deep emotional problems, along with a photographic memory which makes her the perfect accomplice for an amateur detective. The odd rapport that develops between these characters is beautifully understated.

There is a lot of violence in this film, and be warned: it’s of the very nasty and confronting type. One alternate title of the film is Men Who Hate Women, and some of the men in this film are sadistic pigs. And yet it is Salander who is the real focus of this and the other sequel stories; a most off-centre heroine who women will cheer for, despite probably looking askance at her dubious techniques.

The film sports a strong cast of supporting actors (mostly in smallish roles) and crisp cinematography which captures the dramatic changes in the seasons in Sweden. At times a little too much use is made of the montage technique, and the music occasionally threatens to overwhelm, but aside from this GWDT is a top-notch thriller with all the right ingredients – including a truly surprising ending.




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