DVD Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I am always weary of movies based on popular novels. For one, you have to deal with the people who always say “…the book was better”. My only response is a polite “Duh”. When reading a book, the reader is the architect. While the writer lays the brickwork with words, the reader builds in their mind what a room looks like, how a character carries itself, and so on. That is (ultimately) why the movie adaptions never meets your expectations. Your interpretation is rarely someone elses.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a swedish thriller that starts with Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a journalist who has just lost a libel case against an industrialist and must now spend three months in prison.

Unknown to Blomkvist is that he is under the surveillance of a 24 year-old computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). After gathering all her data, she delivers it to a representative of another industrialist company, The Vagner Group. Shortly after, Blomkvist is approached by Henrik Vagner with a strange request:  to investigate the disappearance of his niece on Children’s Day in 1966. Blomkvist accepts.

Still spying on Blomkvist laptop, Lisbeth becomes drawn into the investigation and eventually teams up with him to help. But both investigators are met with frosty and unfriendly hands. It becomes apparent quite early that their presence is not wanted. They continue on their way down the twisting and turning rabbit hole anyways, uncovering many unsavoury Vagner family secrets.

A note to parents: If you have let your children read this international best seller, do not make the mistake of letting them see this film. Wait for the American remake in 2011; it will undoubtably tone down the sexual violence and disturbing violence against women ( The original Swedish title for this book/film translates to “Men Who Hate Women”). In one scene, Lisbeth is attacked by her social worker and raped. She eventually gets her revenge two-times over, even tattooing “I am a rapist and a sadistic pig” on his naked flesh. This film is definitely a grown-up action thriller, but a good one at that.

Noomi Rapace’s portrayal as Lisbeth is one the strongest female leads in recent years. She plays her with an icy intensity that makes her all the more interesting. The supporting cast is great too, especially Michael Nyqvist, but they are all here to supplement Lisbeth’s investigation. In the end, she exits just as mysteriously as she appeared.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is one of the best thrillers to be released in recent memory. To quote Roger Ebert, “It has sex, but not eroticism. Its male lead is brave and capable, but not macho. Its female lead is sexy in the abstract, perhaps, but not seductive or alluring. This is a movie about characters who have more important things to do than be characters in an action thriller.”

Verdict: SEE IT!

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