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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

A 2009 Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev.

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This Dragon Flies

  • Apr 30, 2010
Released just in time to happily mesh with the American publishing advent of the last book in the Millennium trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson, this film adaptation of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" should provide admirers of Lisbeth Salander (hacker extraordinaire and victim of a renegade faction of the Swedish social system) with more than enough fan-tastic material to orbit them into "Girl" heaven.

Director Niels Arden Oplev depicts a Sweden icy in its efficiency; its cleanliness apparent in its scenes of smooth running undergrounds, bridges and autobahns. Beneath the crisp perfection of the surroundings, a misogynist undercurrent flares with the overt intensity of a laser as illustrated by the instantaneous hatred displayed by a pack of leather-clad youths subjugating a young woman to physical abuse in the subway, a guardian of mature years attacking his ward and a teenager subjected to repeated rape and beatings. Director of photography, Eric Kress, intentionally showcases gritty up close and personal full screen faces of the film's protagonists where large pores, warts and all contribute to the feeling of an underlying lack of social airbrushing in spite of all the repressed punctiliousness of both the Scandinavian urban and rural scenes.

The film's leads, most notably Noomi Rapace as the unconventional Salander and Michael Nyqvist as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, more than adequately do justice to their fictitious counterparts. Rapace's waiflike appearance, economy of motion and smoldering glares bring the understandably sullen Lisbeth to toxic life. Nyqvist's vaguely Charleton Heston sensuality and amused sophistication fleshes out the likeable and idealistic Blomkvist but writers Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel omit the character's casual sexual relationships with Millenium editor-in-chief Erika Berger, Cecelia Vanger and former babysitter Harriet. Grant it, the film, running over two and a half hours, has little time to waste on gratuitous sexual footage and exploring instead Blomkvist's woes as a convicted journalist and Salander's smoldering rage regarding her tempestuous and unforgivable childhood in a more than adequate adaptation of the novel's main plotline: the collaboration of the two to investigate and resolve a forty-year old murder on an isolated island populated by a wealthy industrial family. Kress again does a more than admirable job of interjecting B&W stills into key moments of revelation during the investigation. In particular is the forty year old photo of the missing/murdered Harriet, enigmatically staring out from her photo frame like an avenging Mona Lisa.

With never a slow moment, the film whets the appetite for more Salander victory moments--the over fifty art house audience with which I viewed this film was more than familiar with Lisbeth's special skills, dark moods and vindictive motivations; lively conversation before and after the film suggested a group already well-versed through the pages of the novels. Each time Salander displayed her ample hacking abilities, unselfconsciously took what she wanted and knowingly puzzled out a conundrum of Chinese proportions, the audience burst into appreciative laughter or applause, suggesting that the cult of the underdog as epitomized by the tattooed and pierced eighty-something pound, 24 year old Salander was alive and well admired by the sector of American senior citizens who frequent long foreign speaking films with English subtitles.

This reviewer's disappointment came only once with the film's exclusion of the last scene of the novel where Salander, in observing love interest Blomkvist with long-time lover Erika Berger, feels pangs of the ever familiar betrayal, jealousy and resentment of which she has grown accustomed. Seeing Salander's vulnerability in this context would have segued me right into the next film with no degree of difficulty. I also wondered if those who had not read the book prior to seeing the film had difficulty keeping all the plot threads tucked neatly into a well-organized ball.

Bottom line? Director Niels Arden Oplev's adaptation of journalist Stieg Larsson's 600+ page crime thriller, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" successfully entertains and captivates its audience with a faithful representation of the first in a series of three films based on the Millennium trilogy recounting the trials and tribulations of an abused and misunderstood girl with extraordinary powers of perception and technological skills. Cinematography by Eric Kress features a lovely and diffused snow-flaked Sweden compared to the harsh depravity of some of it inhabitants as seen baldly under the glare of too bright light that show every crease, wrinkle and enlarged pore. Noomi Rapace's performance as Lisbeth smarts with an indignation and nonconformity applauded by audiences of all ages and mindsets. A thoroughly entertaining and compelling storyline underlined by special skills makes this one a must see for all those who love the crime genre. Filmed in Swedish with English subtitles. Mature themes and graphic violence not intended for viewing by young children. Highly Recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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September 08, 2010
wonderful review! I liked this one myself....thanks a lot!
More The Girl With the Dragon Tatto... reviews
review by . June 04, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
Sweeden's bright skies wiped away the sicking green night. How does that make you feel?
It's always hard to hear that when an American company is adapting a foreign film.  The general opinion is that it will often suck.  David Fincher's adaption though two years after this film was released proved that isn't always the case, and in any adaption there is always going to be comparisons between the two as to which one people like or which one is closer to the source material.  I haven't read the book yet, but depending on who you ask, either one is the case.   …
review by . July 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Imposingly Violent, Excellent Acting, Tight Plotting Sets a Tone of Alarm and Intimacy....
I have to say that Sweden is beginning to have a great reputation in adapting books into the silver screen. Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev helms “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (“Man som hatar kvinnor whose subtitle means “The Man Who Hates Women”) a Swedish drama-thriller based on the first book of the “Millennium Trilogy” written by the late Stieg Larsson which proved to be a world-wide hit. Hollywood is due to make its own adaptation of the book …
review by . April 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    In 2002, a case involving the disappearance of a young woman from nearly sixty years ago is re-opened by the girl's great granduncle, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), who believes not only that his niece was murdered, but by a family member too. In the year of 1966, when she first disappeared, very thorough searches were conducted and nothing - nor no one - was found. Henrik has not been able to give up. He himself admits to sort of looking for his lost …
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2013
Disgraced Swedish magazine publisher takes on a case for a businessman in finding who killed his niece so many years ago, but he needs help and enlists a talented hacker to help him who has a few issues of her own. Swedish version of the film has a more taut pace and smoother story telling then it's American counterpart that debuted a few years later.
review by . August 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
For the last two years or so, there's been a pretty large phenomenon relating to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I've consistently heard good things about the books and Swedish films, and fairly recently with David Fincher's adaptation of the TGWTDT books, I've had more people talk about it with me more. Finally, I decided to invest some time in my night tonight to watch the first Swedish film in its extended cut form, since it was free video for Amazon Prime users. Boy am I glad …
review by . November 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It's a rare occurrence when the film version can adequately capture the essence of the best selling book on which it's based, but, that's exactly what happened with this version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist are perfectly cast as Lisbeth and Blomkvist. They've had to ditch a lot of detail, and compress a lot of the action, of course, but that takes nothing away from the suspense of the original story. The supporting characters at Millenium, …
review by . April 17, 2010
posted in Reel Overseas
This might hurt a little
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO      Written by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg Directed by Niels Arden Oplev   Starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace      Mikael Blomkvist: As we’ve been sharing files recently, I assume you’re up to date.      Expectations are tricky to avoid when you watch a movie from the last year that has already generated enough international buzz to warrant a fast tracked American remake …
review by . August 02, 2010
About the VCR
After finishing the Stieg Larsson remarkable trilogy, I heard from two people, on separate occasions, that they watched the VCR of Larsson’s first book and thought it was one of the best movies that they ever saw. Like most people who have read a good book, especially one with well-drawn-out characters, delightful descriptions, and many unusual events, like this book, I would have preferred not to see the movie version because, the nature of movies, especially the time constraints and the …
review by . July 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Perhaps it is the current need to see that evil eventually consumes itself that make films like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (AKA "Män som hatar kvinnor") so successful. Or it may be the posthumous fame given Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy (from which this film is 'Millennium: Part 1 - Men Who Hate Women') that has prepared an audience of believers. Whatever the reason this first installment (the other two installments have already been filmed and are ready for release) is being hailed as …
Quick Tip by . September 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I was so disappointed with this film. I can't imagine why it or the book has gotten so much praise. The characters lack any real motivation or psychology, the entire story is filled with giant plot holes, and almost every thriller cliche is employed without any restraint. Perhaps this is one of those cases where people assume it's good because it's in another language... The only praise I can give here is that the actors did a brilliant job fleshing out the weak characters.
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor, also known as Men Who Hate Women in English) is a 2009  Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev. It is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson, the first in his "Millennium Trilogy". By August 2009, it had been sold to 25 countries outside Scandinavia, most of them planning a release in 2010, and had been seen by more than 6 million people in the countries where it was already released.  The film was released in the United States on March 19th, 2010 by Music Box Films, which will also release the second and third films in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, later in 2010.
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Director: Niels Arden Oplev
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: July 6, 2010
Runtime: 152 minutes
Studio: Music Box Films Home Entertainment
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