“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is possibly one of the best two-and-a-half-hour Swedish films dubbed with English subtitles you’ve never heard of, which is saying a lot. While it may be hard to step outside the protective bubble of teenage vampire movies and Shrek remakes hitting the market today, this movie is well worth the time.
The story opens with Mikael Blomkvist, a reporter for Millennium Magazine, being accused of libel for writing a story about one of the corrupt industrialists of Sweden, Hans-Erik Wennerström. While it is rumored the accusations may be false, Blomkvist is found guilty and sentenced to 3 months in prison. Before he serves his sentence, Henrik Vanger, one of the owners of the Vanger Dynasty, asks him to investigate the disappearance of his niece close to 40 years ago.
During the course of his investigation, Blomkvist finds his computer is being hacked into by Lisbeth Salandar, a gothic punk with deep-seated emotional problems. True to the original Swedish title of the movie, “Men Who Hate Women,” (and a much more fitting title at that) Lisbeth encounters abusive men that attribute greatly to her eccentricities. The two eventually team up to become a detective team not so reminicent of Wilson and Holmes.
Noomi Salandar, the actress who plays Lisbeth, gave possibly one of the most riveting performances anyone could hope for. As most of the film is mostly centered around her character and the drive of the audience to learn more about the sinister inner-workings of Lisbeth’s mind, a strong female lead really pushed this movie into greatness.
As it turns out, the film has a rather familiar tone to that of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” The same island-esque feelings of entrapment and seclusion are found, along with an overall darkness that Christie is so well known for. Far from just the cookie-cutter version of the classic murder mystery, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” takes on aspects of a psychological thriller to really add a new dynamic to the genre.
The fact that the film is completely written in Swedish may make the storyline hard to process for anyone coming from a purely American film background. True to the European style of story telling, not all aspects of the movie are fully explained. This, along with several complex plotlines all interwoven throughout the story may make comprehension a challenge. Also, it might feel to some as though visually profound moments are diluted because of all the subtitles English viewers must wade through. This is not, however, enough to ruin the film, but instead something that might encourage the viewer to see the film more than once.
For those out there not willing to sit through a foreign movie as long as “The Lord of the Rings” epics, an American adaptation is in the making. David Fincher, director of “Fight Club” and “Se7en,” has purchased the rights to remake the film in what one can only hope will be as dark and truly brilliant as his previous works. In the meantime, the next two Swedish installments of the trilogy are projected to hit theaters later this year courteousy of Music Box Films.