¨He was a man who hated women¨
Perhaps this quote is what better summarizes the movie which is based on Stieg Larsson`s best selling novel ¨Män som hatar kvinnor¨ which is the first book of the Millennium trilogy he wrote. The title has been translated in English as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a very attractive one, but not as strong as the literary Swedish translation which means The Men Who Hated Women. Larsson died in 2004, before these books were published and became worldwide sensations, but the trilogy was complete and once they were published his first book sold over 8 million copies. Now, his books have been turned into movies and these films have become a great success overseas. A Hollywood remake of these movies are sure to come our way soon, but it would be better to check out the swedish versions first which were all released last year. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was directed by danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev (who directed the danish award winning film We Shall Overcome) and the novel was adapted for the screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg. The film tried to stay faithful to the novel although there were some changes, but the dark mood and the violent scenes remain. Many people were turned down because of the strong violent and sexual scenes in the film which were very realistic and gruesome, but I think they really helped set the tone of the film and explain the characters motivations. The location of the film also contributed to the overall dark mood and helped build the suspense and tension. This was just one of the best suspense thrillers of the year and reminded me of Fincher`s masterpiece, Se7en.
Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is a journalist who works for Millennium magazine in Sweden and has recently been sued by a business tycoon named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom (Stefan Sauk) for libel against him. The truth is that Blomkvist has been framed and the proof he had against Wennerstrom was false so he is sentenced to three months in prison. He has six months before beginning his sentence and he receives a job proposition from Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), a former CEO of the Vanger group, who lives in an isolated island along with the rest of the members of the rich family. Henrik has hired Mikael because he wants him to investigate what happenned to his disappeared niece, Harriet, who he believes has been murdered by someone in his family forty years ago, although police officers haven`t been able to find any clues over the years. The reason Henrik hasn`t given up looking for the killer is that every year on his birthday he receives a portrait with a flower as a gift from different parts of the world that he presumes is from the killer. He says that the killer has to be someone from the family because there was an accident on the bridge the day Harriet disappeared and no one could get in or out of the island on that day so it couldn`t be an outsider. Henrik loved Harriet very much and took good care of her because her mother was irresponsible and her father died an year before she vanished. Henrik`s brothers were all Nazi sympathizers during the War and he suspects one of them is the killer. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is a computer hacker who is pretty good at what she does, but is a very troublesome teenager who has very poor social skills. She was hired by a security agency to follow Mikael during the trial and became very interested in him even after her work was done. She hacks into his computer and begins helping him with the case. Together they decide to dig back in the past, but someone isn`t too happy about it.
The film works as a very dark and intelligent thriller. I think the film was adapted very well from the suspenseful novel and that the movie has a darker Agatha Christie feeling too it. There are a lot of mysteries to be solved and the lead characters are interesting. Noomi Rapace is the true star of the film and she carries this movie brilliantly as her character is probably the most mysterious of them all, but we begin to understand her motivations as the film progresses and we get glimpses of her past. She gave a terrific performance and her very flawed character still makes for a hero who we sympathize with because she is a victim. I really enjoyed how the movie unfolded and how the mystery was built and resolved. I was expecting for the movie to have an open ending because I knew it was a trilogy, but I was surprised to find out that it actually had a decent closed ending. I really enjoyed this movie and am looking forward to seeing the sequels.