Saturday, May 15, 2010

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Language - Swedish) (2009) - Movie Review

The quest for the murder mystery has its absorbing power. It sucks in several individuals to mull over this faceless killer and leave them with broken families, faces and grisly images. Generally there is an underlying emotion, correlation and drive to these investigations and when the confrontation with the culprit happens, there it is, the result and the ultimate moment they thought they would never reach. Though most of the time they are in the victim’s chair and in fear. Everyone in the audience knows that there will be a saviour behind the curtains. Every thing is in there in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, which is the first in the adaption of the Millennium trilogy novels by late Stieg Larsson.

“Zodiac” in 2007 by David Fincher followed the people obsessed with the task of finding the killer. The amount of work is colossal. Patience becomes the mantra and frustration becomes the side effect of it while constantly keeping the focus and wide awake eyes for details. The novels and films are evasive about the time spent by characters in uncovering the truth behind disappearances and the murder mystery. “Zodiac” precisely took that to miniscule details and laid it out. The life spent by a particular individual on this cause is immense and laborious. Mostly met with false leads and inconclusive results, it is an addiction.

Most of the mystery films except “Zodiac” did not do that but it depends on what the object of attention is. Here it wants to finish a meal and then desires for more. The film has a female lead with an untold dreary past and provides a complete thriller for a Sunday evening. Yet it does not has its investigative characters figured out completely. Hence there is a good chunk of thirty minutes which seems unnecessary but there are two other films to be seen after this and those might become the foundations for those. Either way, this reviewer is reviewing only this film and hence after the revelation we do not necessarily care for Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist).

Mikael is a well known journalist and he gets framed by a big corporation. He gets guilty verdict for defamation and is scheduled to serve his sentence in six months. Meanwhile there is Vanger corporation representative runs a background analysis through Goth girl Lisbeth. Mikael gets hired by the CEO of Vanger corporation Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) for finding the killer of his brother’s daughter Harriet. The case has not been solved for forty years and Henrik is an old man dying to find where she disappeared and who made sure she disappears. He suspects everyone in his family who has everything to gain by killing Harriet. Mikael takes up the job while gets snooped by Lisbeth. You know what the purpose of this film is after this.

The director of the film Niels Arden Oplev has a firm grip of the film. And the appeal is the female lead by Noomi Rapace. If you are in a coffee shop and she walks in, you know to stay put. She might be a feared girl inside but her exterior is a statement to be wherever you are and keep your conversation to the coffee. Lisbeth is on probation with a dark past we gets glimpses of. Good that she has impressive hacking skills and a job to feed her passion. Even after she is done with the background check for Mikael, she is drawn into him. Maybe he is so clean that in the line of work she has to deal with the men she has seen and met with does not have a pretty picture. She hacks his computer and watches for activities. She wants him to be dirty so that she can move on with her belief that the men in this world are nothing but rotten perverts. Mikael proves otherwise and the curious case of Harriet gets her piercing wet. She dives in.

This film does not settle itself and the clues they find and crack are clever and quick. At least we do not sit along with them when they have to peruse through thousands and thousands of documents and photographs with details that does not carry a soothing light read. The film does most of the things right till the point they find the killer. Then it becomes obligatory. Any investigative hunt for a murderer is as good as in making them potential characters as well. In this the ritual of killer conversing with Mikael does not carry the fear, tension and psychological pounce the film had through out. We do not fear for the death of Mikael and that is a serious flaw in a thriller film.

Before Lisbeth joins forces with Mikael in the case, she has to deal with her deeply disturbed and twisted old new probation officer. He begins controlling her financial in return for sexual favours which gets nasty leading up to rape. Eventually Lisbeth gets her control but the point of that exercise in going for deep graphic detail does not attribute to the grand scheme of the film. It does not take a dive into the minds of Lisbeth and may be it will in the upcoming films but here it is not essential other than to root for Lisbeth to cause some serious damage to this horrific personality.

I will though recommend “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because despite those details, it is a seriously entertaining murder mystery and its execution is best on the procedure than the findings. Noomi Rapace especially gives an ominous performance of Lisbeth. She is ready to spray terror over her attackers but has a tender inside which lasts fraction of a second. That is enough to get involved with Mikael. I am eager to see where this girl takes her journey on the second film. Maybe the extent in which Rapace put herself through in that unessential rape scene gets some justification in those.

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