sergio romo
in the words of gyp rosetti, everybody got guns

by request: the girl with the dragon tattoo (niels arden oplev, 2009)

Robin had recently read the trilogy, and wanted to watch the movie versions. It was Halloween, and we weren’t in Scare Kids mode, so we turned out the lights, went upstairs, and checked this one out.

I was clueless enough about the books (and the movies, for that matter) that I thought they were young adult novels about a dark but feisty young woman. So, just in case anyone out there is as clueless as I was, this movie was rated R for a reason. Well, let’s quote from the IMDB: “Rated R for disturbing violent content including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity and language”.

Different parts of the movie reminded me of the original I Spit on Your Grave, the TV series Criminal Minds, and maybe Sandra Bullock in The Net. Oplev is quite canny in directing our attention away from the fact that the plot is just a locked room mystery with added brutality for the 21st-century market. There are nods towards a kind of feminist reading of the text, although you’ve also got a heroine who kicks ass, hacks computers, and has sex with both men and women … she’s more like a sensitive 21st-century guy’s fantasy of a feminist heroine than she is like an actual human being.

Noomi Rapace plays that heroine with a combination of sullenness and brio that overwhelms everything else on the screen whenever she pops up. She is easily the best thing about the movie. If I were in charge, I would have cut at least half-an-hour from this 152-minute picture (there’s an even longer version made to create a TV miniseries). It takes forever for the two main characters to find each other, and there are half a dozen endings after you think it’s already over. You can’t call it boring, because of Rapace’s screen presence, and because every once in awhile, you get an R-rated scene to keep you awake.

I realize the above sounds negative, and that’s not fair to the film, which is pretty good, and worth seeing if you can get past the grisly stuff.

And I should mention, as most reviewers did, that the title, while catchy enough to prompt two sequels with similar “The Girl” titles, is not just a poor translation from the original, but also a misreading of the film, which is about The Girl but which couldn’t care less about the Dragon Tattoo. Still, it might have been hard to market the book and movie if the more accurate translation of the title had been used: “Men Who Hate Women”. 7/10.

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