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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is yet another one of those movies. You hear about it, everyone
seems to be raving about it, the reviews are all positive, you wait and
wait for a chance to see it. The time finally rolls around, you settle
in for what you think will be a fantastic film, you watch it and by the
time it's done you wind up wishing you could get the last two hours of
your life back.
The biggest problem with the movie is that it's so slow, you could watch paint dry and find it more thrilling. The acting overall is decent, but the story is disjointed and at times you forget what's actually going on in the movie because it keeps switching back to one of the dumbest sub plots I've ever seen.
Parts of the movies plot that are supposed to connect with each other never really seem to and the parts that do connect well don't really seem to add up. Then there's the character of Lisabeth, who is the focus of the movies sub plot and ties in...or rather is supposed to tie in to the main plot line later in the film. The character is so over done, you might think you were watching an Anime cartoon instead of a live action movie. Mainly, it's her wardrobe that causes that and if they had simply dressed her normally, Lisabeth would be a far believable. There are other issues with her, but her wardrobe is just so ludicrous for most of the movie that it sticks out like a sore thumb. There's also the issue of the scenes involving her probation officer, which I had heard were horrid and hard to watch. All I can say is, nothing to see here...move along. Yes she gets raped and yes she returns the favor but both scenes are done so poorly it's hard to find either really offensive or shocking. How you have a teenage girl get raped and then rape her attacker, yet manage to show less violence then a 90210 episode, I will never understand. Aside from that, is shock value all the producers were after here?
Between the assault in the subway tunnel, the office sex scene, the rape, the revenge rape and so on, the film makers seem to have forgotten they were supposed to be making a thriller. I won't give away the ending, but I will say this. It's not much of a shock and it wasn't worth sitting through this movie to see it. From beginning to end you feel like you waiting for something that just never happens. The pace is terrible, the thrilling moments are a yawn and the entire movie feels like something from the nineteen nineties. All of the characters are cliché and the storyline is rife with plot holes. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wash my Blu Ray player out with soap.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is hardly what I expected from the
highest grossing Swedish film of all time. Maybe it's the graphic rape,
I don't knowI was expecting something more commercial. The good news
is that in such moments, "Dragon Tattoo" is disquietingly powerful. The
bad news is that they lie few and far between an otherwise mediocre
mystery. Swedish actress Noomi Repace plays the eponymous lead, Lisbeth
Salander, and brims with a badassery on par with Franka Potente of "Run
Lola Run." She's terrific, but let me say this up frontThe character
and her performance are better than the film (or at least its second
The first seventy-five minutes impressively juggle gritty, squeamish scenes of Lisbeth's abuse at the hands of her slimy probate and her subsequent revenge, with a straightforward, slow-paced thriller involving Mikeal Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a journalist convicted of libel, being privately hired to shed light on a long cold family kidnapping case. The two threads are remarkably dissimilar in theme and style, and it's a peanut butter and jelly situation for the film; they complement each other ideally, preventing the other from becoming tiresome.
But as should be expected from a story with simultaneously unraveling plot lines, we soon reach their intersection, and although it's a matter of personal preference, for me "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" flounders once its characters coalesce. For starters, Lisbeth's infinitely more interesting arc (and consequently, its stylish flourish) is swallowed by Mikeal's when she becomes his investigatory partner midway through the film. The 'straightforward, slow-paced thriller' takes hold, with the odd addition of a buddy cop dynamic. Generations collide! Lisbeth understands computers and Mikeal has antiquated taste in music!
It's a weird turn, and one I don't think "Dragon Tattoo" really recovers from. The character of Lisbeth is far and away its highlight, and if anything, as the film progresses, her role becomes increasingly marginalized. She loses the snap and snarl that she has independently as she and Mikeal inevitably get intimate, and maybe for some, watching the two change each other as the case comes into focus will be the emotional apex, but I found it a disappointing detour. Lisbeth's act of unflinching vengeance early in the film is neither topped nor matchedShe becomes more boring in Mikeal's presence.
Maybe it's that a relationship in general doesn't feel convincing for so scarred a character. Certainly this is the implication of Lisbeth's interest in sex above intimacy, but it feels like a requisite development dictated by genre expectation rather than an organic attraction between the two characters. That she uses sexuality as a vehicle for self-empowerment is an interesting angle, but then I don't buy the legitimate affection later on. Lisbeth has a photographic memory and is haunted by her pastShe isn't the sort of person whom I believe has a dormant tenderness.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is long, and by the end of the engagement, I felt exactly what the dual story lines prevented me from feeling: tired. The wrinkles in the mystery aren't especially surprising, and the plot is stretched to the point that I'm almost inclined to forget what I found initially so compelling about the characters because where it takes them is so much less so. Lisbeth is fiercely independent, and watching her emasculate her pervert probate has a gratifying brutality that seeing her play second fiddle in a PI procedural couldn't hope to.
My mixed feelings about the film make it difficult to consolidate a final score, so I'll leave it here: "Dragon Tattoo" is a film I half-liked.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or as it is originally titled Men Who
Hate Women, is one of the best contemporary thrillers I have seen in a
while. It combines a suspenseful plot and brutal violence with a deep
exploration of its title character. It goes beyond its plot, revolving
around a missing persons investigation, to become an at times
disturbing character study.
Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace are essential to the film's success. Both actors inhabit their roles convincingly, making us care about people who could have been stock characters. Although the bulk of praise has gone to Rapace, Nyqvist's performance is also worth attention. As Blomkvist, he provides a stable counterpart to Rapace's impulsive Lisabeth Salander, at times coming across as the more sympathetic character.
Much has been made of the level of graphic violence, particularly sexual violence, in this film. Although this may be off-putting to some viewers, it helps establish one of the film's most important themes: the impact of violence on its victims and its capacity to warp the human personality. The most graphic scenes, which come early in the film, help establish this theme, and play an important role in characterization as well.
Hopefully, this film will be remembered at Oscar time. It is far better than most of the dreck that Hollywood has on offer.
Somewhere along the way, the detective genre in both books and movies
has drifted. In the formative period where the form was strong enough
to stick, the idea was a to create an engaging puzzle. The narrative
was the thing and the game was to sort out the causal agency among
possibilities in a sort of quantum logic. Other than the recurring
detective, characters and settings were there to color the puzzle. In
fact, filling them out would reveal their inner motivations, and that
had to be kept hidden.
Then I suppose in the late 70s, detective fiction became what the publicists called "psychological." The genre bumped up against the procedural. Readers lost the desires and skills required to play the simple game, so the game evolved into what I call a vocabulary of folding devices. In the process, detective storytelling started getting judged by the same rules as ordinary drama, for better or worse.
Those rules may overemphasize character definition. We have to have an absurdly sharp but easily described set of ghosts that haunt every character that matters. Mix that with Lutheran Swedish filmmaking and you end up with something like this. The mood is refined and disturbing. The camera does not probe because we expect the characters to project to us. People are damaged, seriously damaged and they spread it around themselves. Cold is the same as gloom.
I have not read the book. It is possible that the language used there is able to bridge the inner cosmos of our two detectives and the world they are discovering. Surely the matter is the same: sexual violence. (Blomkvist's situation here is not quite clear; a lover at work may have helped frame him.)
Anyway, you get two movies. Visually and tone-wise you have the heavy Bergman. There is no mystery or coherent story outside the characters. The characters are cartoons, so outside our experience that they cannot connect, only display.
The only engaging things were the stories within: the photos primarily.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
This is the way Hollywood should learn to balance the suspense of a
thriller and the character of a good drama. The chemistry between the
two leads and their ability to convey the complexities of their
relationship are a huge draw when watching this movie.
The girl is complex, and this first movie in the trilogy only gives a glimpse of her back story - a violent young woman, who at 24 years old is still saddled with a guardian who wants to oversee her money and all her activities. Even though she is the title character, the investigator/journalist who crosses paths with her is really the driving persona in the story. We follow him into a murder mystery, where her story is only a backdrop to her character and her motivation for helping the investigation.
The murder mystery itself is just as compelling as it begins to take the lead. While the structure of setting up such complex characters before getting into the main storyline is a little foreign to the American audience, it's necessary for a story with such characters and it's handled seamlessly here. The story never loses its drive, and its climax touching on issues of race dynamics, twisted psychologies and dysfunctional families, is worth every moment of the film's buildup.
And the second movie in the trilogy is even better!
I've always been cautious about seeing Swedish films made in the last
30-40 years. The reason is that--unlike America, Britain, Germany,
China, Mexico, Italy or Australia--there is almost no controversy over
who is Sweden's greatest filmmaker. And thus nearly every Swedish film
I've ever seen not directed by Ingmar Bergman has either been a rip-off
of the great man's work or just shallow trash. (Substitute "Kurosawa"
for "Bergman" and you'll know why I also tend to avoid Japanese
cinema). Nonetheless, I kept hearing about this film and the book that
inspired it. As a lover of mystery novels and film noir, I decided that
I need to at least give this movie a chance. And I'm glad I did. "The
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" owes almost nothing to Bergman and
everything to the novels of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross
It begins when a sickly, elderly billionaire industrialist who knows better than to trust his awful family wants to investigate the 42-year-old disappearance of his niece--the only relative he ever loved (think "The Big Sleep"). Through intermediaries, he hires Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace)--a hacker/private investigator with a troubled past and a large dragon tattoo on her back. Her assignment is to vet disgraced leftist journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist) to see if he's up to the job. Eventually Blomqvist agrees to do the job and quickly realizes that he needs Lisbeth to help him. Revealing much more of the plot would be unfair.
Aside from the serpentine plot (involving Nazis, serial killers, and a clandestine romance), the thing I liked most about this movie was Rapace's performance as the inscrutable Lisbeth. Maybe there's a pattern here, or maybe it's just me, but--along with Kristen Stewart in "The Runaways"--my two favorite female performances of 2010 thus far have been portrayals of angry, leather-jacketed bisexual young women. Without changing facial expressions, Rapace is somehow able to show anger, fear, love, sadness and embarrassment at the appropriate times. And I feel the scene where Lisbeth is raped by her parole officer ranks just as high if not higher than the scene in "The Accused" that won Jodie Foster her first Oscar.
According to this site, there is already an American remake in the works. I don't know how that's going to work. Parts of the plot are fairly Euro-centric (i.e. jail-time for libel, a local Nazi movement run by Hitler himself). Plus, the film retains novelist Stieg Larsson's radical anti-capitalist, anti-government views, which most Americans would find unpalatable.
The future of Swedish cinema rests on movies from that country being watchable without giving up their artistic merit. Swedish filmmakers need to step outside the notion of becoming "the next Bergman" because there will only ever be one Bergman. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a great first step along that path.
'Girl' exposes us to brutal behaviors and images, serving up a revolting stew of behaviors (sexual, political, religious/ethnic violence and just plain sadism) in the service of a simple, improbable love story between an avenging Goth girl and a crusading journalist with writer's block, organized in the form of a whodunnit. The book was probably great. The movie is grisly. The actress at the center gives a game performance, but the movie never earns the right to display its endless disturbing examples of destructive human behavior by illuminating their origins or consequences in any discernible way. So it becomes, unfortunately, a kind of soft-core snuff film disguised as a suspense drama.
Män som hatar kvinnor (The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo) - CATCH IT ( A ) Its one of the best thriller, shocking, brutal and riveting movie I've seen in recent times though its 2/1 hrs long but still there is not a single moment you feel bore or wondering what's happening, its powerful that you wont take your eyes out of it The Direction is top notch but it's the haunting performance of NOOMI Rapace , which just captures you and don't let you move Other Powerful performance is by Michael Nyqvist, he is totally into the character and is a brilliant actor I loved the Mesmerizing picture of the missing girl Harriet Vanger (Julia SpOrre) it's not less enchanted then MonaLisa trust me on that! A Brilliant master piece should not to be missed in any case.
If you love the book, don't watch the film.
I'm going to keep this short.
I only just read the book a few weeks ago and i loved it. So I decided to watch the film but that was a big big mistake. They got it all wrong, a lot of quite important stuff is just missing. What were they thinking? I don't think the actors are the worst thing about this, but they are pretty weak. I don't even know where to start, so much is just wrong.
I don't think people who read the book will like it and to be honest I don't think people would like it if they hadn't read the book. It's just wrong.
I won't be watching the sequel but I'll be reading it.
It is a quite uncommon event, that a Swedish film should get so much
attention pretty much anywhere, not just in Scandinavia or, outside its
home regions, the art-house circuit (Bergman isn't exactly multiplex
stuff). Of course, when the film in question is based on a best-selling
novel, nay, the most profitable book in Northern Europe, it's a whole
different thing: partly because of the unique circumstances surrounding
its inception (the author was a journalist who wrote fiction just for
fun and died shortly after submitting the final version of the
manuscripts), Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy has shocked and
enthralled readers all over the world, which explains why the
adaptation of the first chapter, Men Who Hate Women (retitled The Girl
with the Dragon Tattoo in English-speaking countries), has become the
most successful Swedish movie of all time. That, and the fact that it's
a very good film.
Not surprisingly, the main character is, like the late author, an investigative reporter, a man in his late forties named Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). Sentenced to a six-month stint in prison for allegedly forging evidence against a powerful businessman he wrote about in the magazine Millennium (hence the trilogy's title), he still has the time to carry out an assignment handed to him by one Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube): to find out what happened on the day Vanger's niece, Harriet, disappeared. Dis she simply vanish, or was she murdered? As the plot thickens, Mikael receives unexpected help from Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a young hacker with a troubled past and continued problems with her legal status, more specifically her sleazy guardian.
In the transition from page to screen, some elements had to be abandoned, obviously: gone are the data on abused women that opened each section of the book (the major contribution of Larsson's journalistic side), as well as the sly references to past detective story staples (Blomkvist and Vanger mention Agatha Christie when discussing their investigation). In terms of plot, on the other hand, the adaptation process is worthy of L.A. Confidential: no unnecessary subplots (do we really need to see Mikael sleeping with half the women he encounters?) or irrelevant side characters, just Blomkvist and Salander, an odd investigative couple whose essence is best summed up by Mikael's line: "You know everything about me, and I don't know sh*t about you.". It's that kind of weird humor, spoken in plain, brutal Swedish, that gives the film its heart, along with a decent dose of mystery.
The Scandinavian landscape has its part in guaranteeing the story's success, too: like in the wonderful Let the Right One In, the cold, snowy environment provides the ideal backdrop for one of the most chilling (pun not intended) and grisly tales of murder ever committed to film. Staying true to the book's bleak core, the violence is depicted without many restrictions, especially in the central rape scene that justifies the original Swedish title and sets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo aside from the majority of Hollywood's sanitized thrillers.
In short, this is a riveting, rewarding experience. Needless to say, an American version is already in the works to please subtitle-weary moviegoers. It's not necessarily a bad idea (look at what Chris Nolan did with Insomnia, originally a Norwegian picture), but can there really be a Tinseltown actress brave - and good - enough to take over from the mesmerizing Noomi Rapace? Well, at least she still has two more films to steal before that happens...
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