Film review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace)

The disgraced investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) agrees to investigate the 40-year-old case of a missing teenage girl. The girl’s uncle, who approaches Mikael to take the case, is the former CEO of a wealthy group of companies and head of a large dysfunctional family, all of who are under suspicion. Mikael is assisted by the mysterious Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a young women with a punk attitude, expertise in cyber-espionage and problems of her own.

This Swedish film noir would perhaps be better described as a film blanc due to the crisp, white, Nordic light that fills many scenes. It’s the first part of a trilogy based on Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” of crime novels, which may have worked better as a television mini-series. Lisbeth’s back-story in particular feels unnecessarily nasty and prolonged despite having apparent connections to parts two and three.

Still, this is an intriguing and sometimes disturbing mystery that works reasonably well as a stand-alone film. The original Swedish name for the novel translates directly into English as Men That Hate Women, which reveals much about the film’s misogynistic and sexually violent themes that are linked to religious and ideological fanaticism.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 350, 2010

© Thomas Caldwell, 2010

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  1. It certainly looks and feels like a telemovie, including the visuals, the framing and the clunky narrative. I found the sex and violence (particularly the sexual violence) very clumsy and gratuitous. The film is way overlong and I pretty much felt like I could have walked out at any point after five or ten minutes. I think the film is designed to appeal to 16-24 year olds, but it has almost zero appeal to me.

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