Lisbeth is recovering in a hospital and awaiting trial for three murders when she is released. Mikael must prove her innocence, but Lisbeth must be willing to share the details of her sordid experiences with the court.
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 suspects 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. Written by
Music Box Films
The music lends a threatening aspect to the opening scene, where we in slow close ups on and off deliberately out of focus get to follow the opening of a package. Inside the package, post marked in Hong Kong, is a framed plant. The camera starts to move backwards, taking in more of the room and revealing Sven-Bertil Taube as the opener of the package. He holds the frame in his hands, lowers his head and slowly starts to cry.
Niels Arden Oplevs Män som hatar kvinnor is based on the first of Stieg Larssons three bestselling novels, meaning of course that it is basically guaranteed large box office numbers but the expectations will probably match those numbers. Weather the film manages to live up to these expectations I cannot say seeing as I am one of the probably only eight people who has not read Stieg Larssons books. But as a piece of cinema, completely removed from its literary origins, it definitely leaves an impression!
The music mentioned above, written by Peter Fuchs, is the first thing to register in the mind as something interesting Something that make everything feel very serious. The impending-doom-score composed by Howard Shore, for David Finchers Se7en, springs to mind and this only a few seconds into the film.
The cold, hard, uncomfortable reality where the movie takes place is populated by a highly recognizable legion of people straight out of Swedens acting elite (Gösta Bredenfeldt, Lena Endre, Ewa Fröling, Björn Granath, Peter Haber och Marika Lagerkrantz to mention a few) and they all seem to have been so thrilled to be a part of this project that they almost as one has taken their characters a step back, allowing the spotlight to be shone on the two main characters, who also get to drive the story forward; the reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Mikael Nyqvist), who is digging through a 40 year old murder case involving a well known corporation family with Nazi connections, and the 24 year old computer hacker EMO Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) that every day hacks Blomkvists hard drive, captivated by the puzzling evidence (or lack thereof).
Nyqvist gets the job done playing what is basically the lesser of the two parts. You instinctively feel sympathy for him, and sympathizes with him even in his very first scene, in which his character is convicted of slander, and sentenced to prison.
But when the lights come back on in the theatre, and you gather up your half eaten box of popcorn and your coat, it's not Mikael Nyqvists understated but persistent reporter you will remember most it's Noomi Rapaces leather-and-stud clad, tattooed, pierced, heavy makeup wearing biker chick, Lisbeth Salander.
Weighted by old wrongdoings as well as new ones, Lisbeth is covered in emotional scars, making her a very interesting character that easily could have been a silly rehash, a Gunvald Larsson in leather. But Noomi Rapace bases Lisbeth in real emotions rather than clichés and hammy over acting. You can tell that there is a real person behind that steely gazed, unyielding face, something that make those parts of the movie, where we get to come with her through what must be some of Swedish cinemas most horrendous scenes, feel that much more awful. You almost can't help looking away, as she is abused over and over again
The relationship between Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander is the only part where I felt the movie rushed things just a tad. But this is only a mild piece of criticism, as the lack of insight leaves the audience feeling that they, just like the character Mikael Blomkvist, don't know what to make of Lisbeht Salander.
Besides the two leads, I want to single out Peter Haber, who really got to show off his skills! He is obviously good for more than just playing the silly father of Sune or the annoyingly correct police Martin Beck.
I have, like I mentioned earlier, not read the novels by Stieg Larsson, and I have an automatic aversion towards Swedish cinema; which I usually find stiff, with acting taken straight out of the latest grocery store commercials. In other words, Swedish film has its work cut out trying to sell me anything. But, and I am not ashamed to admit this, I'm gonna go ahead and BUY!!!
In the narrow little world that is Swedish cinema there is a lot that one could or even should avoid. But this movie is not something to be ignored! So leave the kids at home (this is NOT a very pleasant film) and head for your nearest multiplex to take in of the most thrilling Swedish films in a very long time!
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