The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo–Movie Review

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3.5 Stars
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (a.k.a Män som hatar kvinnor) is a gripping thriller for people who don’t hate subtitles–and who are prepared to watch some very dark and disturbing stuff. Those who have read the original novel by Stieg Larsson will know what I am talking about.

Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a muckraking Swedish financial reporter, has just been sentenced to 3 months in jail for libeling a powerful industrialist. Before his sentence begins he is contacted by another industrialist, this one old and retired. Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) wants him to try to solve a long-forgotten mystery: the disappearance in 1966 of his beloved niece. Vanger believes that she was actually murdered by some member of his extended family, which includes some ruthless and unsavory characters.

In order to solve the mystery, Blomkvist finds that he needs the help of a most extraordinary character: Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a young punk-goth researcher and computer hacker with some server social-adjustment issues.

Any movie based on a long and complex novel is bound to resort to some simplifications. For the most part I have no problem with the simplifications that this movie resorts to, but there is one that bothers me. In order to provide a simplified explanation of why Lisbeth behaves as she does, they make a significant alteration to her backstory. The effect is to undermine one of the more appealing aspects of Lisbeth’s character: in her own twisted way she is very ethical and never resorts to more force than the situation requires. (The change also makes a rather polemical story seem even more polemical.)

Ultimately this is not as clever and interesting as the book, but you definitely won’t be bored. Whatever you do, don’t take the kids, even if there are a number of references to the children’s stories of Astrid Lindgren. (Mikael is compared to Kalle Blomkvist and Lisbeth might be considered a very, very dark version of Pippi Longstocking.)