Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (2010; Review)

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE
(3/19/10; Mystery, Swedish language)
Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Marika Lagercrantz, Lena Endre, Björn Granath, Ingvar Hirdwall
SCR: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg; based on the novel by Stieg Larsson
DIR: Niels Arden Oplev
2 hours 32 mins
BOX: $98,308,530

Riveting first chapter of late author Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” introduces us to the instant classic detective duo of middle-age publisher Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) and damaged, brilliant hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rapace).

It’s no mystery why this trilogy exploded in popularity around the world: it’s a dense whodunit about a powerful family, their horrible secrets and the unsolved disappearance (and suspected murder) of a fetching 16-year-old girl from 40 years ago – and that’s just the first book!

This Swedish flick gets just about everything right. The mood is mysterious, the editing is taut and the characters are brilliantly cast. Rapace (as the dogged and uncompromising Girl) conveys a lifetime of damage with a glance. And because of the lengthy running time, director Oplev is able to indulge in an early episode of abuse and revenge that seemingly has little to do with the plot, but sets up the events in the next two installments. Dragon Tattoo is a thoroughly engrossing epic that refuses to treat its audience like it’s stupid.

This trilogy opened in the U.S. under the shadow of the impending big-budget American remake to be directed by David Fincher. Followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire. (Music Box)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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