Thursday, February 2, 2012

Movie review: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

I have been quite busy for the last two weeks, so wasn't able to find a free afternoon to write this post, even though I watched "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" the weekend before last. I have seen the trailer for it when I went to movies to watch "Contagion" (I think), so I talked my girlfriend into watching it.

I knew few facts about the movie before watching it, and few of my friends watched the Swedish version of the movies and judged them good. Curiously, I have had a page-marker with praises for the Croatian translation of the "Millennium" trilogy by Stieg Larsson for couple of years now, but I didn't make the connection with the movie because they kept the original names in translation (the original name of the book is "Men who hate Women"). More so, the marker contained praises for the books, but they were written by one "famous" Croatian poet which I don't like (don't like his taste in books), so I stupidly dismissed the books. But now, after watching the movie, I think I will read them in future.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a thriller dealing with some old murders in Swedish aristocratic family. Plot is quite good. Movie lasts more than two and a half hours so they took their time and used it good - main action doesn't start immediately, but it takes some time to introduce characters. There are two main characters: Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander; their plots start separately and run in parallel, but are connected somewhere in the middle of the movie. Mikael is a middle-aged famous journalist in the magazine called "Millennium" who targets a rich industrialist and writes an article depicting him as a criminal - but after some of his claims are proved false, his whole article is the taken as nothing more than slander and he loses credibility. Since he wants to move from public eye for some time, he accepts an assignation by another rich old man, Henrig Vanger. He task up front is writing Henrik's biography, but in truth he is trying to solve the disappearance of his niece some forty years ago. Another complication is that someone from his family is probably to blame - even worse, Henrik's whole family lives on isolated island so Mikael is maybe living next door the possible murdered. On the other side of Sweden, Lisbeth, a 23 year old is trying to sort her life. She was a problematic child, always different from others - abused by her father and blessed/cursed with photographic memory. She is officially under care of decent social-worker who treats her well; without his knowledge she does some investigation work for highly-expensive detective company. But after her caretaker suffers a stroke, she is put under care of sadistic Bjurman...

As I said, plot is quite good and also done pretty well. Two independent plots are not very usual, but this worked very well because this was you never know what is coming up next. Another good point of the movie is that induces the audience to participate in the movie. Claim that the culprit is someone from Vanger family is given quite early in the movie, so you just have to try to guess who of them could be the one.

Characters are also interesting. Mikael is played by Daniel Craig, and he is very convincing in the role of intelligent journalist who is at first dismissive of this case, but later gets sucked in by its curiousness. Lisbeth is played by mostly unknown (at least to me) Rooney Mara, but she also does a great job with this demanding role.

Demanding, because without the character of Lisbeth, this movie would still be a very good thriller, but it would lose much of its impact. And this impact is acquired by unusual amount of brutality and violence, both physical and psychological. So, although "all the rape" is not strictly necessary for the plot, it is what separates this movie from others. So, be warned, this movie contains quite few shocking scenes, and they are done very visual and explicit. This is not your usual Hollywood movie, which probably didn't return much in money, but it paid off in respect.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is one of the best movies I watched in last couple of years. It contains much violence, and its dark atmosphere will not be suitable for anyone; but if you like high-budget thrillers and don't have aversion to explicit scenes, this could be a movie for you.

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