Monday, November 15, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The English language remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo stars Daniel Craig and newcomer Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. It will be released in 2011. I recently watched the 2009 Swedish language version of the movie, and don't know why it has to be remade. But I know my fellow countrymen don't like movies that aren't in English. The English translation of the book on which the movie is based is a best seller in the U.S., and Americans are generally not willing to support a film with subtitles. So, make it over!

Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace play Michael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander, respectively, in this moody and sometimes very violent movie. Anyone who's been living in a cave or doesn't read fiction might not have heard the genesis of the novel, Men Who Hate Women (the title in Swedish), the first of a trilogy by the late Swedish journalist, Stieg Larsson. Larsson died at age 50 after plotting out 10 novels, but had finished three.

Like most popular mysteries, Dragon Tattoo is notable not just for its plot, but for the lead characters, Lisbeth and Michael. Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth walks away with the movie. Lisbeth is a girl with a terrible past, a ward of the state because of past violence. Rapace explained in an interview included with the DVD that she put herself on a diet and worked out to reshape her body to be more like a boy, rather than her softer, more female figure. It paid off; Lisbeth is totally believable.

We're shown just how violent Lisbeth can be when attacked by a gang of toughs in the subway, and manages to fight off several big guys.

As a warning to the sensitive, there are two violent rapes in this movie. The second rape is revenge for the first. Despite the brutality shown in both scenes, the watcher feels that justice, in its crudest form, has been done.

The journalist, Michael Blomqvist, is hired to find a girl, Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago. Is she alive or dead? Her uncle, millionaire Henrik Vanger, thinks she has been murdered, and clues point in that direction.

Two stories are told simultaneously, of Lisbeth, a genius computer hacker with a photographic memory who has delved into Blomqvist’s case via stolen online information, and Blomqvist’s search for clues to the disappearance of Harriet. It’s when the stories converge, and Michael and Lisbeth get together, that the movie goes in unexpected directions.

If I have a complaint about the movie it’s the length, mostly in the ending, which is anticlimactic. It wraps up the mysteries, but could have been edited down without so much exposition. Despite the drawn-out denouements I highly recommend The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

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