On Sunday, I went to the local art theatre to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This was the movie version of the book written by Steig Larsson. Directed by Neils Arden Oplev, the film needfully leaves out quite a lot (the book was a bit long to reduce to two and a half hours), but also includes quite a bit. Actress Noomi Rapace does a stunning job of portraying Lisbeth Salander, a hard edged hacker with a very sad history. Salander becomes involved with the central figure of the film, reporter Mikael Blomqvist, who becomes embroiled in a 40 year old murder mystery and dynastic scandal. A powerful family corporation sits at the center of the disappearance of one of their own, and Blomqvist uncovers a mountain of ugly secrets the Vanger corporation never dreamed of.
The story actually sets itself up in a way that pulls you in to the mysterious life of not Blomqvist or the Vangers, but the mysterious Salander. I think the reason many of the side relationships that were shown in the book were omitted in the film was to cement the audiences curiousity upon Salander. The remaining two books (which were also made into film sequels) focus even more on Salander, as their concern is to reveal the long, horrible history of the character.
The film paces the suspense quite well, and manages to keep the perfect tone to shock and surprise you, to pull at your sympathies and keep your undivided attention. In the book, Larsson provides information at the start of some chapters about Sweden’s legal guardianship system, statistics about the amount of people under it’s care, and the disturbing amount of power it holds over those it claims to be protecting. Certainly, Salander’s story illustrates what could happen when such power is put into the hands of someone who would abuse it. There are a few key scenes that I’ve seen criticized in many reviews as being too graphic; instead, I’d say they served their purpose. With the amount of detail the movie leaves out by necessity, these key scenes convey the depth of the abuses the character was put through. Either scene lasts only a minute or so. Both were detailed far more gruesomely in the book.
If you’ve read the book and have the patience for subtitled film, I’d definitely recommend seeing the movie. If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend seeing it anyway, then perhaps reading the book. A well crafted mystery/suspense film which keeps you on the edge of your seat.