The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Writers: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg, Stieg Larsson
Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Ewa Fröling, Lena Endre, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Peter Andersson, Marika Lagercrantz, Ingvar Hirdwall, Björn Granath, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Annika Hallin, Sofia Ledarp, Tomas Köhler, David Dencik
Synopsis: Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, ruthless computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity and language
Who is the "girl with the dragon tattoo?"
A Gripping Mystery Suspense Thriller That'll Haunt You Long After It's Over
Out of all the foreign movies, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" definitely ranks among the best that I've seen thus far. Although the story might be a bit too dark for some viewers, as it deals with controversial issues such as rape, murder, mutilation and etc; while portraying a sinister dark side of humanity that'll haunt the psyche of anyone who watches it. However, it's a very interesting to see how the this mystery unfolds, as Niels Arden Oplev and his writers manage to orchestrate a story like an elaborate jigsaw puzzle that'll keep audiences guessing until the very end.
I especially liked the musical score during some of the movie's more intense scenes, as it helped intensify the dramatic suspense of the film. Not only does it give the movie a certain creepy feel during some of the more disturbing scenes, but it also fits the tone of film perfectly.
The movie is said to based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, where it depicts a troubled young girl named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who has had a bit of a rough past in her life to say the least. I would elaborate more on that, but part of the film's allure is the mystery behind her past, and finding out the intricate details for yourselves. However, from what we do learn about her, it's easy to come understand how she feels about life; particularly her feelings towards men in general. Although Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) turns out to be the only sympathetic male figure she seems to come into contact with, you can still sense an innate sense of caution in Lisbeth's demeanor. Sure, it's easy to see from their times of intimacy that they do have some mutual feelings and attraction towards each other, but at the same time, Lisbeth keeps her distance from Mikael in fear of being hurt.
Although a part of you wishes they'd be together, but at the same time, the audience is given enough of a deep back story for us to understand why she can never fall for him. However, this is only part of the elaborate story though. Mikael works as a journalist for a popular Swedish magazine called the "Milenium." Unfortunately, due to a series of events, he finds himself in quite a degree of legal trouble when one of his sources turns sour on a article he was working on.
However, he's eventually approached by a very wealthy benefactor to investigate the disappearance of a young girl named Harriet Vanger, who has been missing for the last forty years. It's been widely believed, by her Uncle, that she's been murdered by someone within her tightly knit, yet dysfunctional family, but her body was never found. It's from here, Mikael reluctantly agrees to conduct the investigation, in exchange for some vital information to another story he was previously working on.
Along the way, he inevitably finds out about Lisbeth Salander, who's an ace computer hacker. The two eventually join forces to solve the mystery behind Harriet's disappearance, as each clue brings them closer to solving the case. However, what they find is something far more sinister and sadistic than anyone could even fathom. Indeed, this is one engaging mystery thriller that'll haunt you long after it ends, as it portrays a dark side of humanity that we all know exists, but don't often like to think about.
Dealing with various controversial concepts like rape, mutilation, abuse and murders involving religious references isn't exactly something that'll fit well with most modern audiences. But if you're into gripping mystery thrillers that'll grab your attention like this, then you'll definitely be in for a real treat with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
As I stated earlier, I liked the chemistry a lot between Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, and I thought both of them conveyed their characters quite well. Michael portrays his character with a sincere genuine kindness that manages to break through Lisbeth's emotional defenses, as to allow the audience to get to know her more on an intimate level. While at the same time, he was also highly resourceful throughout the movie, but still showed a certain amount of vulnerability to allow us to sympathize with him as well. As for Noomi Rapace, I have to say I was very impressed with her role in this film.
Not only did she capture the rebellious outcast, yet street smart techno hacker, with relative ease, but she was still able to show a great deal of toughness in various adverse situations; while still allowing for some vulnerability in her character to show to allow us to relate her.
I especially liked how well this movie was paced, as it starts off slow to allow us enough time to get to know each of the characters individually. But as the mystery of this movie unfolds, it speeds up to it's epic climax that'll send chills down anyone's spine.
Although the film contains graphic violence, and dealing with controversial subject matter, may turn off a lot of people. However, we have to understand that it was intentional in telling this story effectively. Unlike most Hollywood cliched films, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" isn't meant to portray a pretty upside to life, with a mediocre cliched ending. No, it's business is to show us a dark gritty story that looks at the dark side of humanity. A side of society that we know exists, but often find ourselves refusing to talk about, as it's too sickening to even think about.
In the end, I wouldn't recommend this film to everyone, as it does contain a lot of controversial subject matter that may turn off a lot of people. However, if you're into dark mystery suspense thriller films that offer a deep intricate plot that'll keep you constantly guessing, while offering deeply layered characters, then you'll definitely come to love this film. Overall, I'd have to give it a four out of four, as it's arguably one of the best foreign films that I've seen.