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Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

By Edited Dec 3, 2015 0 0

158 minutes, Certificate 18

Director: David Fincher

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a film based on the first book in Steig Larsson's posthumously published bestselling Millenium trilogy. This isn’t the first time the book has been made into a film; in 2009 the entire trilogy was made into a series of films in Swedish. This version starring Daniel Craig (Skyfall, Spectre) as Mikael Blomkvist is in English.

In the entire trilogy it's Blomkvist who is really the main character, the trilogy being named after his Millenium magazine, not Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, Pan, Side Effects) even though every book title begins "The Girl..." giving the impression that it is Salander who has the lead role. Only the second book in the series has its original name; the other two were both renamed, neither using "The Girl..." in the title. The first book was originally called "Men Who Hate Women" but this less than catchy title was fortunately renamed by the publisher and the titles for all three books were made similar.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Blomkvist, after a disastrous court experience where he lost to Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg) which left him almost penniless as well as damaging his credibility, decides to stop being the publisher of his magazine, Millenium, leaving it in the hands of his co-editor and long-term mistress Erika Berger (Robin Wright). Industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) invites Blomkvist to his island to avoid those who would be currently harrying him as well as to write a book about what Vanger calls "...the most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet. My family."

This is only a cover. What Vanger actually wants Blomkvist to do is to investigate the murder of Harriet Vanger 40 years previously. Henrik is convinced it was done by a family member, and that said family member is trying to drive him insane. Harriet's body was never found, even though the entire family spent days searching the island. Harriet's brother, Martin (Stellan Skarsgård, Marvel Avengers Assemble, Thor: The Dark World), is now running the family company, Henrik having retired. Henrik as an added incentive says he will provide details that will help Blomkvist against Wennerström in the future.

The film has two threads, that of Blomkvist, and that of Salander. Lisbeth Salander is a brilliant, if somewhat unorthodox, researcher who has problems of her own, in particular abuse at the hands of her guardian Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen). Each person is covered separately initially, until Blomkvist decides he needs a research assistant. Vanger's lawyer, Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff), says he knows an excellent one - the one who did the background check on Blomkvist himself. Blomkvist has come across a series of apparently related murders spanning many years, not just the disappearance of Harriet, all of women and pre-dating her murder, and needs Salander to help him look into it. He has already had a bad experience where he wrote without sufficient evidence, the Wennerström case, and is not willing to make that mistake again.

Although the main characters meet at this point, to some extent their investigations still separate them, with Salander doing a fair bit of travelling to perform research that cannot be done on the computer. Salander being a skilled hacker, she is able to access most information that is stored on a computer, but that that is only available in hardcopy requires  her to go and read it personally

One annoying thing is the accents; some of the actors have what is supposed to be a Swedish accent, but some don't. Although some of the actors are Swedish, this doesn't mean that they would necessarily have an accent when speaking English and, at least in Stellan Skarsgård's case, they have shown this to be true. The clash between some of the cast speaking with an accent and some who aren't is a bit disconcerting. It would likely have been better to have all or nothing, and nothing would have been easier. As it is, the confusing mish-mash of both definitely and possibly fake as well as non-existent Swedish accents, especially on the part of Daniel Craig as the other main start, Rooney Mara, is speaking with a fake Swedish accent even though she isn't Swedish either, detracts from the film, it doesn't add to it. This may have been done because the film is still set, and some parts shot, in Sweden.

Other than that, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a good thriller that stays reasonably close to the book, which does probably add to the length of the film although some of the characters, especially Erika Berger, have substantially reduced parts. This is likely due to there not being enough time to cover them in the detail in which they were covered in the book without extending the film to the point of being far too long to be watchable.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo egdcltd 2013-11-02 3.5 0 5
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Amazon Price: $9.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 3, 2015)


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