Friday 19 March 2010

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Year: 2009 (U.K Release 2010)
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Screenplay: Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace

Plot synopsis is here

This week there was rumblings that that English language remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the works may fall into the hands of David Fincher (he is looking more like James Cameron by the day). It's interesting (read not surprising) that Fincher would be looking at such a project because to me The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo feels a lot like a Swedish Seven. Those last two words placed together should either freak out those who hate the idea or get fans even more intrigued.

Based on the first novel of Stieg Larsson's The Millennium trilogy (Original Swedish title is the very aptly named Men who hate women), Niels Arden Oplev's film is a heavy one. Not only does the film have enough graphic imagery to make someones crotch crawl back into themselves, but the dense plot strands demand your attention throughout the 152 minute running time. This isn't your average crime thriller, but a headstrong, character driven beast which might take a while to get into but was never uninteresting in the slightest.

A website I frequent, compared the film to the Da Vinci code, finding the plot to be too heavily based on computer searches to be appealing. This is something i disagree with, as it's the characters (considered cold and stereotypical in the same review) which we follow that make the film so appealing. The plot may be more than a little "out there" but the burning intensity that Noomi Rapace gives the character Lisbeth kept my eyes glued to the screen. A resourceful yet emotionally stunted girl, who hides her secrets with her brilliant ability and upfront attitude. Her outward look shows a woman who is always in control and yet the tiny inflections and fragile glances by Rapace barely conceal the character's vulnerability. It's a woman who is no damsel in distress (watch her fight) but is still struggling to cope with a deeper inner conflict. Stereotype? To some. Absorbing? Most definitely.

Plaudits should also go to Michael Nyqvist whose "lost" face is actually one constantly fraught with disillusionment. Divorced, with an upcoming jail sentence looming; he takes a job he really wasn't sure about in the first place and find himself in a web of what may or may not be a conspiracy which could destroy what's left of him. Forgive him if he's not filled with a more fiery spirit. Nyqvist's Mikael Blomkvist is the calm "straight man" to Rapace's intense Lisbeth. The two work superbly in tandem so it's it's even more ballsy to keep the two separated for the narrative's first hour allowing the film to focus on building the characters of both.

As a thriller, TGWTDT is a constantly engrossing; it's admittedly outlandish story is still one of entertainment and solid internal logic, it's moments of humor are strangely playful amidst the morbid themes (Race, Misogyny, Greed) that are raised within the narrative. Director Niels Arden Oplev takes time in telling the story and still had me wanting to know what happens next to these characters. I have got long to wait as the second part of the film is on it's way very soon. If Fincher gets his hands on the project, then I expect the same level of interest.