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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

by

Jeff Nelson

Of the three movies, this is my favorite of the trio. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo easily justifies a high recommendation.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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Books and movies alike are known to spike in popularity. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's case, the books felt like an overnight sensation. In 2009, Sweden released a film by the same title. As soon as I heard about its release, I expected to hear the fans of the books to be furious as they are with most book-to-film translations. I was surprised to hear nothing but positive reviews. Some even claimed that they enjoyed the movie more than the book. After hearing the praise, I figured I had to give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a chance.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist and rebellious computer hacker Lisbeth Salander team up to investigate the unsolved disappearance of wealthy Henrik Vanger's teen niece, only to discover dark secrets about Vanger's powerful family. While I viewed the film without any knowledge of the plot, I soon found myself engrossed in the story. This plays out much like other crime investigation affairs, but the execution here delivers better results. Despite the fact that Lisbeth Salander receives plenty of screen time, her character remains a bit mysterious and unknown. Her character is undeniably interesting with an incredible amount of depth. This entire series circles the topic of misogyny and how it affects the outcome of society. However, Mikael proves to be one of the only male characters to treat Lisbeth with respect. Salander is an empowered woman with tendencies to fight back. The pacing is consistently smooth from start to finish. Expect The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to completely pull you into its confines and not let up until the credits are rolling.

With the exception of the two lead characters, the cast mainly consists of members of the Vanger family. Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace carry the film as Mikael and Lisbeth. Michael Nyqvist has good chemistry with Noomi Rapace throughout. Between the two, Noomi Rapace is the star of this piece of cinema. Not only does she come across as genuine in her role, but she handles each dimension of Lisbeth to perfection. She's able to be tough and vulnerable simultaneously. I can't imagine any other actress performing as Lisbeth any better than Rapace. Each of the supporting roles perform alongside Nyqvist and Rapace very well. Without these strong performances, I doubt that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been as powerful.

This is clearly a film that handles dark subject matter. None of these topics are watered down. They're shown as is. In result, some scenes may be hard for some audiences to stomach. The most controversial sequence is easily a woman getting raped. Director Niels Arden Oplev provides a deeper impact on the film. The atmosphere is gloomy and provides a secretive tone that allows the audience to piece the puzzle together. The audio is exactly what would be expected. The dialogue remains in the center channel and surrounds stay subtle. It's a disappointment that the score feels extremely underwhelming and thin. Even though the audio is a letdown, the camerawork and atmosphere are great.

Regardless of the fact that I haven't read the books, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a wonderful motion picture. The popularity surrounding this film is warranted. Out of the trilogy, this is the most disturbing of the three. This is something to keep in mind for those who may have difficulty withstanding the rape scene. This isn't your average crime thriller, but is a well-composed film that deserves the hype it received. Of the three movies, this is my favorite of the trio. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo easily justifies a high recommendation.

My Rating = Four and One Half Stars

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