The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo [Man Som Hatar Kvinnor] Movie Review

Even without reading the book, you get the sense that the filmmakers have been almost unnaturally faithful to the first in Stieg Larsson's trilogy of Millennium novels. It's over-long and almost pathologically detailed, but it's also an extremely effective and well-made thriller.

Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) is a journalist who has just lost a libel case. He has six months before he has to report to prison, and the wealthy Henrik Vanger (Taube) hires him to look into an old family mystery involving the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl nearly four decades earlier. What Mikael doesn't know is that a shadowy young woman, Lisbeth (Rapace), is following his every move. But soon they start working together to unravel a scandal that gets creepier with each discovery.

The original title literally translates as "Men Who Hate Women", and indeed, this is a film about extreme cruelty against women, from Lisbeth's terrible past (glimpsed in flashback) to her hideous encounters with her parole officer (Andersson). Not to mention the horrifically violent murders the investigation uncovers, which are linked to both racism and religious fundamentalism but ultimately boil down to vicious machismo.

Oplev directs the film with a slick, sinister, meticulous style that pulls us in from the beginning. The suggestive camerawork constantly sends chills down our spines as it catches details in the settings and characters. But even more interesting is the sharply well-played interpersonal drama between Mikael and Lisbeth, which develops unexpectedly and turns into a dark romance about two broken people who find each other in the middle of a seriously terrifying situation.

Of course, there's also a strong sense of vengeance threading through this tale, as Lisbeth gets even with the men who have brutally abused her, all while prying open this increasingly ugly 40-year-old murder case. The result is a film that's spikey and scary and often surprisingly funny. And even at two and a half gloomy hours of relatively standard potboiling detective work, it's constantly thrilling to watch. And yes, she has a pretty cool dragon tattoo.

Cast & Crew

Director : Niels Arden Oplev

Producer : Soren Staermose

Comments

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo [Man Som Hatar Kvinnor] Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 18, 2009

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