The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is one of those films that you hear about, but no one can really explain what it’s about. No matter how many plot summaries you read, your mind keeps asking “but what about the dragon tattoo?” Well, let me clear this up; the movie has nothing to do with dragons or tattoos. In fact, we barely see the tattoo in the film and it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
The actual plot is about an old man that hires a disgraced reporter to investigate the 40 year-old murder of his niece. The reporter, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) unravels an old family (the Vangers) secret that uncovers more murders than just that of the missing niece. He’s aided in his investigation by a young researcher, Lisbeth Slander (Noomi Rapace). She has plenty of baggage of her own, but she is drawn to the case because of her attraction to Mikael. Together, they start to reveal horrible atrocities various Vangers committed and that revelation threatens their lives and their ability to finish the investigation.
I’m hesitant to divulge too much about the plot because I think some of the more shocking moments really play well to set the tone of the film. I knew nothing about the story when I watched it and as the disturbing scenes transpired, I realized that they served to heighten the intensity of the film. But they take an emotional toll on the audience and watching the people in the film suffer various fates is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not comfortable with disturbing storylines and subjects like rape, incest, murder, torture and abuse, then you may want to steer clear of this film.
The film succeeds on many levels, most notably with the character development of Mikael and Lisbeth. Each have their own back story and director Niels Arden Oplev does a fine job of building up each of them. He then manages to tackle the complex story and peels the mystery away with a skillful mastery that’s usually reserved for seasoned directors. I genuinely cared about both of these people and that’s unusual for a murder mystery of this nature. As each character becomes involved with the murder investigation, the film changes the focus from them to the actual investigation. That’s a tricky thing to pull off, but because we had so much development in the beginning, it managed to work.
Where the film lacked was in tying the two character arcs together. I liked the conclusion of the investigation, but everything after that was completely unnecessary. The very final scene of Lisbeth felt out of place and not within the arc that had been established for her. It’s a minor complaint, but it ruined the tone of the film and while most of it was dark and serious, it ended more like a romantic comedy.
The real treat of the film, and the aspect that will probably garner the most attention, is with young Noomi Rapace, who had to depict one of the most complicated characters we’ve seen with Lisbeth Salander. The difficulty of her performance cannot be underestimated as she had to pull off some extreme emotions and she did it wonderfully. For the record, she’s the one with the dragon tattoo, not that it meant anything to the film.