Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Review

Before I properly start this review I must concede my knowledge of Swedish cinema is somewhat limited to the phenomenal 2009 film, Let The Right One In, and for some silly reason I never bothered to investigate further into what the bleak Nordic nation had to offer the cinematic world. However, after experiencing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I have a feeling it will be hard to ignore the region for much longer.

Based on the bestselling book of the same name - originally translated Men Who Hate Women - TGWTDT tells a thrilling tale of Mikael Blomkvist, a middle-aged investigative journalist who writes for the magazine Millennium, loses a libel case against a corrupt Swedish industrialist and is sentenced to prison - and they say the UK libel laws are bad.

Before beginning his prison time, Blomkvist is hired by an aged former CEO of a group of companies owned by a wealthy dynasty, wanting him to solve the disappearance, forty years ago, of his great-niece when she was sixteen. Blomkvist is ultimately helped in his quest by Lisbeth Salander, a young punk who has been victimized or misunderstood by those in authority throughout her whole life, but who is also a brilliant computer hacker. The unlikely couple become an unorthodox detective pair.

Firstly I just want to say how absolutely sensational the film actually looked, the director Niels Arden Oplev, relatively unknown outside his native country, has a vision for the most spectacular shots that more established, mainstream peers could only dream of, making for some of the best use of cinematography I have seen so far this year. Perhaps it was partly the bleak locations he had to work with, conjuring memories of the visually provocative BBC detective series Wallander. The comparisons with the TV series are perhaps more than coincidental considering they're both from the same production company Yellow Bird.

I always find, rather lazily I may add, it can sometimes take a degree of effort for anyone to watch a film in subtitles but with TGWTDT the story was so gripping and powerful it would keep any avid member on the edge of their seat for its rather hefty two and a half hour running time.

The characters themselves were captivating and elegantly portrayed. The main protagonist Mikael, played superbly by actor Michael Nyqvist, showed off a range of emotions in some rather gritty uncompromising circumstances, subtly echoing the life of the deceased author of the original novel, Stieg Larsson. However, it is hard to deny the real star of the show was the character Lisbeth - Noomi Rapace - who was one of the strongest, most interesting female leads I have seen in a long time, with a rather horrific back story which should make for interesting viewing in the, already made and bound for UK cinemas later this year, sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Final Thoughts
Regardless how faithful an adaptation it may, or may not, be, the film is a tense, explosive and perversely creepy thriller once again showing the wonders that the Swedish film industry has to offer the world. If 'whodunnit' shows such as Wallander and Inspector Morse mixed with more cinematic nuances such as Seven and the foolishly underrated Kiss The Girls are in line with your tastes then I can't recommend The Girl Who Played With Fire enough. Incredible. Roll on the sequel...


See This If You Liked...
Seven, Kiss The Girls and Wallander

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is in selected cinemas from 12th March. For Belfast readers it will be showing in the QFT.

*Changing the rating system back to marks out of 5.


The Wild Ardor Of Things said...

Very interesting that you liked the film so much. Personally I was very let down. I thought it was tense and gripping in places, but overall it felt like a very plodding run-of-mill adaptation.

And the amazing cinematography you talk of completely passed me by, I have to say. I thought the visual identity of the film was grey and uninteresting.

Sarah said...

havent seen it yet as i would like to read the book first but hav to say im suprised how much u liked 'kiss the girls'!

and marks out of 5-big mistake :P

owen said...

I watched this at the weekend, and while I was suitably impressed I then went on to watch the other two parts, and was wondering if you had caught them and had an opinion?

Also, good Swedish film if your looking.. 'My Life as a Dog'.