Music Box Films | Sweden | 152 mins
Adapted from the opening entry to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy novels, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a conventional crime mystery type thriller comparable to the team-driven investigation race against time type mood of the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. While the sound of another Dan Brown edge-of-your-seat formulaic thriller should not sound that appealing, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is served with enough distinctly Euro flair to spice it up considerably for American audiences and make it slightly more appealing.
Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is a very well known and successful journalist for a leading magazine in Sweden and is hired to do some private investigation into the disappearance of a woman 40 years ago. Pierced and bad-ass Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has been following him throughout his investigation electronically. Lisbeth is a 23-year-old hacker on probation that makes a living by getting paid for small jobs employing her skills as a hacker — however bloated and unrealistic they may be. She begins to uncover details that he has yet to find and starts tipping him off when his investigation begins to slow down. Ultimately, the unlikely duo meet in person and begin working together to uncover a string of murders involving women lasting over 50 years.
The film is being imported to America this year but Europe is much further down the rabbit hole of the saga of Lisbeth Salander. The books were authored by Stockholm journalist Stieg Larsson and were published posthumously following his sudden death in 2004. While America still waits for the third installment of the trilogy, all three books have been long released in Europe as well as all three films.
Sadly, and entirely unsurprisingly, Scott Rudin and David Fincher are already attached to an American remake of the property. The international gross of over $100 million and the fine acting and production values of the already produced and successful films are apparently no match for the unrelenting American aversion to subtitled films as well as the complete lack of original story telling plaguing the studio film industry in the United States. It’s becoming apparent that there is no point in even getting angry when news like this breaks as the American film industry regardless will suck up every successful international property and try to jam it firmly into an American mold. Artistic value and even fiscal success be damned. Will we as the everyday middle class American audience ever happily watch a subtitled film in the theater? We are probably more likely to watch computer animated chipmunks sing or cry our empty souls through Nicholas Sparks painting by numbers the story of love and love lost for the 18th time.
The way the story unfolds is far from revolutionary and it is a textbook example or your standard crime mystery; however, the performances help the film stand out among its peers, of which it has many, and create a level of unique distinction among the mass of look-a-likes. The solid performances and European audience friendly vulgarity and shock play hand-in-hand with the well crafted tension and engaging suspense and deliver a solid adaptation of the first installment of the successful book series. Whether or not this solid foreign film will break through the barricades of the general American ignorance to foreign language film is yet to be seen, but it is a well made and very engaging film despite its flaws in narrative.
8 out of 10
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo had a limited US release on March 19th.
Have you read the book? Interested in the film?
Check out the trailer below.