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WGUC Reviews

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Danish Filminstitute
Rated R
Now Showing at: Esquire Theatre.
Review by: Larry Thomas


Movies have always had a penchant for adapting literary works to show on the big screen. From the early days of film up to the current Twilight series, a popular book is usually a good starting point for a movie.

But it doesn’t just apply to Hollywood. Now there’s a series of incredibly popular novels from Sweden that have given birth to a series of equally successful films. The first film in the series is just now reaching the U.S., with two more set to follow. It’s called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This game of political and sexual intrigue is a nice mash-up of John Grisham, Alfred Hitchcock, and the latest political conspiracy du jour.

A Swedish journalist is accused of libel by a powerful industrialist and loses the case. While waiting to serve his jail sentence, he is approached by a member of a prominent family who seeks his aid in solving the murder of his niece forty years earlier. The journalist crosses paths with a young, pierced, tattooed computer hacker, who was hired to spy on him, and they decide join forces.

If it sounds plot heavy, it is, as there’s a lot of plot to cover with all the various characters. But there’s not a wasted moment in the two-and-a-half hours of this fascinating tale. Michael Nykvist is the journalist and Noomi Rapace plays the title character. They are as unfamiliar to American audiences as the rest of the supporting cast, but are all capable performers and a pleasure to watch.

As in any tale of mystery, most of the characters have a secret or two that must be exposed, and in this film, some of them are very disturbing.

You may find yourself trying to keep a mental checklist of who’s doing what to whom and why. And don’t feel that you’ll be at a disadvantage by having to read the subtitles -- the important thing is to enjoy the ride.

Well-directed by Niels Arden Opley, and with a fine score by Jacob Groth, the technical aspects of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are all first-rate. Cinematography, editing, and locations all add to the intrigue and drama.

This is another film that may strike you as another “where did this come from and why haven’t I heard of it” film. It’s being released by the small indie distributor Music Box Films in Chicago, who last year gave us the terrific French thriller Tell No One, and last week provided us with the outstanding climbing film North Face. As usual, Hollywood is getting it backwards, having purchased the remake rights for director David Fincher, of Seven fame, to re-do for 2012. Too bad that Hollywood just didn’t do their best to make the original film available for wider audiences. I can’t imagine it will be any better as a remake.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is unrated, although it would likely be an “R” and is now showing at the Esquire Theatre.


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