Monday, January 23, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I write this review knowing I haven’t read the acclaimed Millennium books by Stieg Larsson, or watched the original movie made in Sweden, but I really don’t think that matters. In all three versions, I imagine we’ve found one of the most original female characters ever written in Lisbeth Salander.

This is a dark film, but that’s what to expect from director David Fincher (Aliens 3, Zodiac, The Social Network) and apparently from the source material. And it’s a murder mystery to boot. Knowing that, I still wanted to see it, and I’m glad – perhaps that’s the wrong word – I saw it. It’s clearly one of the best movies of 2011.

Mikael (played by Daniel Craig) is a journalist whose career is in ruins because of a poorly sourced news magazine article. As he holes up to lick his wounds, he’s offered a well-paying job by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who asks him to solve a 40-year-old murder mystery. As almost an afterthought, Henrik warns Mikael that his family members are monsters. And, almost without exception, they are: Nazi sympathizers, bigots, fearful of strangers, well-educated rednecks who don’t mind human targets, if necessary.

The mystery gets under your skin very quickly. It’s quite intriguing, but the whole thing is brought together by the goodness and passivity of Mikael and the raw, intense intelligence and viciousness of what will be his research assistant, Lisbeth. She’s a feminist wonder, except that she’s not working for the feminists, with a moral core but no-holds barred on how she achieves her own justice. Lisbeth is a bird so wounded by so many horrible experiences that she’s almost beyond the reach of human touch. Her humanity has been beaten out of her. As portrayed by actress Rooney Mara, she’s utterly fascinating.

This movie was so good I’m tempted to read the books. Definitely a thumb’s up.


At 10:01 AM, Blogger Sheryl said...

Not sure I'm going to see this one. I watched all 3 of the Swedish films. I don't know if I can watch all the abuse over again. Lisbeth is a great character.


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