“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Film Review
Okay. I’ll admit it. I have a fascination with tattoos. No, I don’t have one. I’ve thought about it and just never have been 100% sure about what I wanted. I think that is what intrigued me about the title of this film.
The film is based on a trilogy of Swedish novels. They were written by Stieg Larsson, who unfortunately, passed away shortly after completing the trilogy. The novels have became world wide bestsellers. As of this writing, the third book was just released in hardcover here in the States.
A couple months ago it didn’t look like the film would be released here locally, so I bought the first book. I have to say it was one of the best crime books I’ve read. It has a story line that draws you in and makes you want to keep turning pages to find out more. Unlike a number of its’ genre, the novel has both a gripping story line and interesting characters.
The film version currently in theaters is a Swedish film. The Swedes were actually treated to the entire trilogy in film form already. Yes, it is a foreign film. This means a couple of things.
First, the film is in fairly limited release in the US. Here in the Midwest, you’re not going to find it playing at your local megaplex.
Second, the film is subtitled. I know this will turn a number of people off from it. I never used to be a big fan of subtitles, but I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with them. I’ve watched “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” both ways, and actually prefer the subtitled version. I’ve also bought a number of Asian horror films on DVD that are subtitled. Just because a film isn’t in English, doesn’t mean it isn’t good, people. Great films are made around the world everyday.
I was recently browsing the website for a small local theater, when I noticed they had added this film to their “Coming Soon” list. I’ve wanted to visit Cinema Center for some time, but it just never lined up right. They show a number of independent, foreign and documentary films. They really love film for all the right reasons, and it’s great to see something like this in this community.
Mrs. Nerd and I got our chance to head downtown last night and catch a screening. A word of advice for the Fort Wayne folks, they only take cash or check. Me and my ATM card had to hoof it down to the nearest cash machine. We had arrived with plenty of time, so it wasn’t an issue.
Because of the title of the film, you would think that the story revolves around the girl with the tattoo, but it doesn’t. The central plot of the story revolves around a forty year old mystery of a missing girl. The girl was a member of prominent Swedish industrialist family who disappeared from a remote island that was cut off from the mainland at the time of her vanishing. The only possible suspects are family members.
The patriarch of this family hires a disgraced investigative reporter to take one last look at the mystery that has haunted him his entire life. The reporter, Mikael Blomkvist, is hired for a 6 month period to move to the island and review the mass of information the patriarch has accumulated.
Before hiring Blomkvist, a lawyer for the family has a thorough background check done through a Swedish security firm. In the employ of that firm is an unusual researcher, Lisbeth Salander. Salander is the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Lisbeth is completely about counter culture. She has a large dragon tat on her back, as well as several others. Jet black hair and piercings complete the picture of angst. On her neck is a tattoo of a wasp, which is her online hacker identity. And by hacker, I mean super hacker. She has used her computer skill to gain access peoples PC’s and do her research for her employer.
Salander also, not surprisingly, has a troubled past. It’s mentioned in the film that she has a violent background and been institutionalized. There are pieces of her past in this film that are not explained, but are part of the bigger trilogy. Her issues have led her to be declared incompetent by the state. To this end, she has a guardian assigned to her to manage her affairs.
At one point in the film, Blomkvist and Salander join forces to continue his investigation. Each of them brings a different set of views to the case and it is the combination that eventually sets them on the right path.
I don’t want to give away very much of the story. The unraveling of the mystery is part of the joy of watching this film or reading the novel. I will say that the simple mystery gives way to very dark family secrets. Just when you think the story is over, there is a twist and the mystery deepens.
I want to make a note that this film isn’t for the prudish. There are underling themes to the film that are very dark. There is also a rape scene that some viewers will find a bit shocking. The title of this in Sweden was “Men Who Hate Women,” eluding to the darker elements. The film is R rated, and definitely not for children.
I will say that although there is violence in the film it is done in a tasteful way and not a horrific shocking way for the most part. Kudos to the editors for pulling this off in a way that American films can’t seem to grasp. Sometimes showing less is more.
There are a couple of startling moments in the film. Fellas these are always good times to wrap your arm around your sweetie.
If you are a fan of “Murder She Wrote”, this probably isn’t your cup of chamomile. If you liked the film “Se7en” or the show “Criminal Minds”, you will enjoy this flick.
I normally am concerned when a book I loved is turned into a film. Nine times out of ten, the film version doesn’t do justice to the printed word. Dear readers, this is one of the good ones. The locations and characters are very close to what I imagined. There have been some liberties taken. Some plot elements have been rearranged and some are completely absent. That said the spirit tone and plot are intact. Short of making each of the books a 4 or 5 hour mini series it would have been impossible to get it all in there. The makers have done a great job of pulling out the important stuff for a film audience and making a great film.
If you haven’t picked up on it, I really like this one. A good film made from a great book. I’m half way through the second book, “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” I can’t wait to see this one come to life on the screen.