The girl with the dragon tattoo is tough and aggressive. No, I’m not referring to the film. The character, Lisabeth Salander (Rooney Mara), is the reason this film is worth watching.
Salander’s presence commands a double-take or triple-take when she enters a room, but for reasons unlike the sexed-up heroines we’re used to seeing sashay around and fight crime. Salander is peculiarly alluring and swipes the spotlight from the ab-ripped Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig).
Salander’s tattoos, multiple facial piercings, tar-black spiked hair and pale skin, seemingly untouched by sunlight, lure you in. And the mystique and the “I don’t give a (you-know-what) attitude” will make audiences go ga-ga.
To put it simply, this heroine is different. And that difference inspires genuine empathy and support from viewers, especially when you learn of the sexual abuse Salander encountered to get money for food from Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), her legal guardian (warning; it’s extremely graphic).
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thematic thriller revolving around heinous crimes against women. Salander’s story, the unlikely heroine and face of the trilogy, is just the beginning.
Though Salander exudes rebellion, she is still a girl. The mysteriousness, the social ineptness, stem from Salander’s tumultuous past, which is lightly highlighted when Bjurman reads her file.
For movie-goers new to novelist Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl’ trilogy, this film may be difficult to pin down in the opening scenes. The previews smartly beef up the suspense to sell this as a classic who-done-it thriller.
The film drags a little in the beginning, detailing background information and employing separate narratives for Salander and Blomkvist, a Swedish journalist hired to interview suspects involved in the case of a missing girl.
Forty years later, still distraught over his niece Harriet’s disappearance, Henrick Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires Blomkvist. The journalist is flown to the Vanger family’s island where he stays in a cottage to gather pictures and background information on family members in an effort to pinpoint Harriet’s killer.
Since Vanger is a multi-millionaire, the acquisition of Blomkvist does not happen without an extensive background check that specifies his loss of a libel case, personal finances and an implicit affair with a colleague. This is where genius hacker Salander enters.
Although the film seems to center around Harriet’s case, it is aptly titled because that’s not the main driver. Once Salander and Blomkvist’s stories inevitably intertwine, Vanger family secrets surface, and Henrick comes to terms with the results, the mystery within ‘The Girl’ remains.
This film earns 3.5 out of 4 stars.
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