Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (18)

Dir.  Niels Arden Oplev

Starring. Noomi Rapace,  Michael Nyqvist

4/5

2010 has thrown up a few films with a penchant for psycho-sexual aggression towards women (see The Killer Inside Me or even Twilight). Although the use of the female as a victim is as old as cinema itself, it has long since taken a turn towards the gruesome and oft-appearing gratuitous nature of the brutality of the crimes committed against female victims.

In this respect, the first filmic instalment of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows the trend of incorporating vicious femicide as a plot device, and in doing so has suffered allegations of misogyny. But director Niels Arden Oplev chooses to make his female lead more complex that her male counterpart: Comparisons to Jodie Foster’s Clarice Darling are no doubt set to abound, but Rapace’s Lisbeth is a far tougher cookie: more capable, and far more twisted than her Hollywood sisters.

Mikeal Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is respected investigative journalist dubiously convicted of libel charges. When the head of a rich family hires Blomkvist to solve the 40 year old mystery of the disappearance of his niece, he finds himself paired with young, but psychologically damaged computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace).  Together they uncover decades of dark secrets involving murder and rape.

The plot is all thriller and not really much different than what is expected, but it is Rapace’s Lisbeth who drags this film out of the pulp genre and gives it a sense of purpose.  Much of the first hour is gives over to the heinous circumstances the female protagonist endures before bringing Blomkvist and Lisbeth together; The story strips, rapes, brutalises and demeans her, but never allows her to fall into the victim-status plagued by other crime-thrillers.

The director never really utilises the potential of the beautiful Swedish landscape and instead focuses all of his intentions upon the characters, particularly Rapace.  Niels Arden Oplev is also all too aware of cinema’s legacy with the thriller genre, incorporating Jacob Groth’s excellent, Bernard Herrmann-esque, Psycho-style score to add a healthy dose of tension to mixture and a meticulous approach to the way the lead character’s deconstruct the evidence presented to them.

Although the finale conjures up a refreshing twist upon the protagonists’ gender roles, the epilogue to the film is slightly too Hollywood for a film that endeavours to set itself apart.

Trailer:

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About craig shaw
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