First things first, this is a review of the 2009 Swedish film, directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on the novel by Stieg Larsson. Not to be confused with David Fincher’s 2011 film of the same name also based on the novel by Stieg Larsson. Also, I have not yet had the opportunity to read the books by Larsson at this point in time so this is a straight review of the film, not comparing it in any way to the book as I have no frame of reference on that stand.
Secondly, this is the first of three reviews which will continue with a review of the second and third films from the millennium series including The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.
If I were to sum up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in one word, it would be infuriating. Two words would include disturbing and three words would end with Amazing.
Infuriating because the major premise of the film is violence towards women. As I grew up I was instilled with the principles of chivalry and taught how to be a gentleman. Whenever I am presented with stories of abuse or any kind towards the fairer sex I get a sick feeling in my gut and have a hard time imagining what would drive someone to hurt someone physically or mentally like that.
Disturbing because of the amount of abuse we are shown as an audience. There is one scene in particular that is shown no fewer than three times through the film that is so visually and audibly disturbing that I’m sure my face was showing the amount of disgust I was feeling.
Amazing because the acting from every single actor in this film is jawdroppingly good. I have always had a respect for foreign films because a lot of the time they aren’t held under the same censorship laws that Hollywood films have to follow to a T for the risk of being rated unfairly high or not being released at all. This allows films based on highly graphic books to be more true to the original material. I also enjoy watching foreign films in their original language with subtitles. Some people have issues with this saying they can’t read and watch at the same time, but the language used in this film makes it easy to follow along and after the first five to ten minutes of allowing yourself to adjust to reading while watching you don’t even realize you are reading. The characters are incredibly well-developed and you feel such a connection or aversion to each one that by the time the credits begin rolling you want to find out what happens next.
The main character of Dragon Tattoo is Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), an ingenious hacker who, through a round about way, becomes involved with Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), the head investigator/reporter for the publication, millennium which specializes in ousting high-ranking public and political figureheads. Mikael gets framed for libel against industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is sentenced to three months in prison, and ordered to pay hefty damages and costs. Soon afterwards, he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, the retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history; the investigation of Blomkvist’s circumstances has been carried out by Lisbeth through her current gig for Milton Security. Blomkvist is offered a hefty paycheck and proof against Wennerström if he agrees to write the Vanger family history. This leads into some hearty detective work into the Vanger history including murder and the disappearance of Vanger’s niece Harriet 36 years ago.
Little is known of Lisbeth’s past and she does nothing to remedy this for anyone she meets. She is secretive and apparently a very strong and driven woman. We do know that she was entered into a psychiatric ward at the age of 12 after dousing her father with gasoline and lighting him on fire for beating her mother severely enough to cause brain damage. When she was placed in the ward she was diagnosed as legally incompetent thus needing a guardian to control her finances and essentially her life from that point on. Her current guardian suffers a stroke and she is placed under the guardianship of the scum of the earth, a lawyer named Nils Bjurman who uses his power and control over Lisbeth to beat and sexually abuse her.
While doing his research, Mikael realizes he needs help. Vanger’s lawyer suggests Lisbeth and the two begin working together and quickly discover they are on the path of something much darker and deeper than they had originally suspected.
There is little more I can say about the plot without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a definite nail-biter of a film that leaves you wanting more. There are more questions left unanswered by the end than were answered throughout the 2 hour+ film almost demanding you watch the next. Which you should do as all three films are currently available on Netflix’s Instant Viewing. EDIT: Also available on Amazon Prime Instant Viewing!