The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

February 22, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

A dark, mysterious film that breathes fire through it’s acting and complex plot, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a compelling entry into the world of cinema. This Swedish film, directed by Niels Arden Opley, centers around a murder that takes place 40 years ago. The plot unravels slowly, but is worth the wait, and Noomi Rapace, as Lisbeth Salander, gives a performance that will not soon be forgotten.

Opley does a wonderful job making a film to match the first of Stieg Larssons three best-selling novels. The first aspect of the film that jumps at the audience is the music, as it molds the sharply serious tone of the film. The cinematography is also well-done as we are swept by the coldness of the film, in the natural surroundings and imposing building structures, matching the characters. Opley also utilizes flashbacks and parts of voice over very well; two difficult filmmaking tools that are only used well by those who are talented enough. The audience is dropped into a cold and uncomfortable, yet fascinating, reality.

The entire cast does very well, but Noomi Rapace, playing  Lisbeth Salander, delivers a standout performance. Rapace plays Lisbeth Salander with a steely gaze, and stone face, but we feel her human side hiding behind the tough exterior she has built for herself out of necessity. She’s a resilient, bold and clever woman wrapped in tattoos, leather, piercings, and studs. Even when she is brutally abused, somehow we know she’s going to bounce back. There is no doubt that Rapace is a bad-ass as Lisbeth Salander, but not in a hollow way like Angelina Jolie does in her action flicks; Lisbeth is in a realistically brutal world. The other main lead is played by Michael Nyqvist, as Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist bold enough to reveal the truth and wear a target. Nyqvist does a suitable job, but Rapace just has the richer role.

The film seems like a standard mystery thriller at first, but it builds up to become a complex monster. The characters are just as rich and interesting as the plot, and the film works both as a mystery piece and a solid character study. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an offbeat noir flick with an iconic character in the hostile and savvy Lisbeth.

Potential Drawbacks:

Clocking in a little over two and a half hours, this film may be too lengthy for some. The length can be felt at times, and might put off some viewers.

The character of Lisbeth and the unveiling of the different components of her character are at times more interesting than the main murder case plot, taking some out of the main story. Additionally, some of the information given about the case can be slightly overwhelming at certain points in the film, and some viewers may care less about the case.

Film Recommendations:

Eastern Promises
L.A. Confidential

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