Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Män som hatar kvinnor | Niels Arden Oplev, 2010

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it, but I’m weak when it comes to movies about reporters or people that have some sort of history that take on the big guys that no one seems to be able to keep under control. If a movie has that story, it won’t take much more to earn my love. The same can be said about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. However, it has some huge flaws that would hurt any other movie, but in the end, everything else makes this a satisfying and entertaining movie, but not as great as some would have you believe.

Based on the international best seller by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows two characters. One is Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a hacker who has a troubled past and faces abuse from her parole officer. The other is Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a reporter for “Millenium” magazine who has just been sentenced to three months in prison for libel after being framed by one of the most powerful men in the country.

After the trial, we find out that Lisbeth had been asked to gather information about Mikael. Shortly after, Henrick Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), the man that asked for the information hires Mikael to work for him to solve the disappearance of her beloved niece 40 years ago. He takes the job to keep busy before he has to go to jail, believing that he would find nothing. But he starts finding clues that not even the police could find. Soon, he is joined by Lisbeth, who believed that he is innocent, in finding the truth about what happened to the girl, and together the find macabre stuff that leads them to a serial killer.

As I’ve said, the main reason I liked it was the story. Since I’ve never read the books or saw any of the trailers I had no idea what to expect. It took me a while to figure out what has happening, but once the story grabbed me, it didn’t let go. It was a tad predictable, especially after seeing whom David Fincher had cast in one of the key roles in the upcoming remake. And the script does a good job of setting up the story properly and the dialogue is good, but not outstanding. But if there is one complaint that I have about the story is that it goes on for too long after the mystery is solved.

The other thing that made it a good movie is the performances. Noomi Rapace is very good as Lisbeth. She portrays the character very well, and it is especially impressive after you see that in real life she is not anything like Lisbeth. Michael Nyqvist is also really good as the reporter who pretty much just wants his life to move on past the rough patch that he is going through, and he portrays the changes that the character goes through perfectly.

On the technical side, it is pretty well made. For a movie that is two and a half hours long, it moves very quickly, so props to the editor. The score is sometimes too bombastic, but doesn’t get in the way most of the times. And the cinematography is proper for this kind of movie, but it could have been better.

This brings me to the one thing that prevents this from getting a guaranteed spot on my top 10 of the year: the direction. This story and its setting offer the opportunity for a very visual movie, but everything feels run of the mill. And when the director tries to get stylish, it took me out of the movie and distracted me from the subtitles. Also, he relies too much on shock. The rape scenes feel totally gratuitous. They could have been implied and it could have had the same effect but he goes for something that would make people want to cover their eyes. And the fact that nothing shocking follows, makes those scenes feel even more unnecessary, and the story gains nothing from them.

So, all in all, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is one of my favorite movies of the year so far, but I doubt it will be in my top 10 of 2010 whenever I get around to it. If anything it made me excited for Fincher’s remake, because if the story alone got me to really like the movie, imagine what would happen when one of the best directors working today (who happens to excel at the genre) takes on it.

One thought on “Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

  1. I loved this movie, and I think it is on my list of top 10 movies I’ve seen so far this year. However, I do agree with you on the “gratuitous” part. I almost think the rape scenes would have had more meaningful impact on the viewer if they hadn’t been shown explicitly, but rather implied and left to the viewer’s imagination. As it is, I think it probably just disgusted a lot of people. But still an awesome film.

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