“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” as it is known in America, is part one of a series of films based off a best-selling trilogy of books by Stieg Larsson. It is Swedish in origin and is actually the highest grossing film in Swedish film history and 2009’s highest grossing European production. It has won rave reviews, and on July 6, 2010 the DVD hits the streets after a theatre run that had audiences clamoring for more. The second part of the trilogy hits theatres July 2, 2010. That’s fairly impressive for a film that doesn’t involve martial arts or jokesters cracking wise in WWII.
An American remake is due out in 2012. I’m saying this now: Avoid it and stick with this one.
The story seems rather simple in nature. A disgraced investigative reporter, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), is hired to find out who killed a girl about forty years ago. He is aided in his search by the mysterious hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), whose past is shrouded in violence. Together they delve into a family whose secrets and fetishes go beyond the insane and into the realm of totally ape s**t crazy.
If this were an American production, that would be all there is to the story. This film, however, goes far deeper. To give you a hint, in Sweden its title is “Millennium: Part 1 – Men Who Hate Women.” And do they. If you want to look at it from a sociological viewpoint, this film is not a murder mystery, but an examination of how men destroy women and how women cope with it. And it’s not just a social issue, either, as the politics behind it are examined, too. A lot of this, it needs to be said, is done in a fairly subtle manner. I’d like to see the American remake pull this off, but we tend to like our movies about as subtle as bullet to the face. (Be forewarned, though, not all of the film is subtle. If you are easily bothered by sexual violence, you may want to steer clear of this one.)
Two other things work in the film’s favor: it is part of a trilogy and doesn’t feel like it, and the film’s conclusion to the main plot makes perfect sense and should be obvious almost from the start. What also should be realized is that as deep as this movie is (and it gets fairly convoluted and deep), you can tell that the book probably delved into this story even more and would, in that case, be far more satisfying. Obviously, a movie can’t do everything a book does. At 152 minutes, it tries … and it does a great job of it. Some parts of it, however, feel like they’ve been left dangling. Maybe that is something the other movies will tackle. Maybe not. Either way it was a great film that will surely be diluted once Hollywood gets its hands on it.