The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Written by Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a popular novel released by Swedish author Stieg Larsson and is now in production to be an American film, headed by director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club). As it happens, however, the film has already been made, and by those that should have made it to begin with, the Swedes. In fact, the entire trilogy has been made and released, though I have yet to catch up with The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Lisbeth Salander(Noomi Rapace) is the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, yet, as the movie sets itself up and generally plays out, we find she is not the main character of the film. That would be journalist Michael Bloomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), who has been convicted, under suspicious circumstances, of libel against a big business man. So now that he has resigned his position at Millennium magazine, Bloomkvist gets hired on by another big businessman, Henrik Vanger. Head of the Vanger Group, he wishes to find the presumed murderer of his niece. The problem is that the disappearance of little Harriet Vanger happened 40 years ago. When Michael encounters snags in the case, and one Lisbeth Salander, will he be able to sustain his sanity, or even his life, and be able to solve the mystery?

I was originally surprised at the fact that Lisbeth was not the central part of the film and that it was not her story we were being told. She certainly comes up and we get her story too, though I was still puzzled by her character somewhat by the time the film was over. I felt like the filmmakers showed us stuff that we didn’t need to see. And in addition, some of it was quite graphic and disturbing. Maybe I am wrong there, but I just thought the film, which runs at two and a half hours, could have been shorter and more to the point, which was the mystery. And the mystery itself was fantastic. I was on edge with every breakthrough made, every corner they peered around. The mystery is what makes this film worth watching.

The fast paced middle certainly makes up for the slower beginning and ending. The acting here was all fine, with both leads turning in fine performances, but what fuels the film most is its ability to tell the story of the mystery of the disappearance of Harriet. And in doing so, the flashback scenes generally are alarming and have great cinematography. In the end, the film is worth seeing, though I am not sure if it is worth noting. There were choices made by the filmmakers that I didn’t necessarily agree with, but they were few enough to make it an overall enjoyable experience.

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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