The thing about watching foreign films is that you need to stick with them long enough to allow the story and the characters to work their slow magic on you. When this happens, you are captivated until the end. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is no exception. This Swedish film comes with an English soundtrack and subtitles. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery that starts slow, allowing the viewer to get accustom to the climate, the story and characters. Within the first 20 minutes or so, the action, the heat, and drama pick up captivating the audience into this “Whodunit.” The film stars Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist as an investigative team intent on solving a 40-year-old murder mystery. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is not rated but does contain violence, mature language, and sexual content.
When renting the DVD of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, first check out the bonus material first and take a look at the Vanger family tree. Checking out this material first will help in figuring out the complicated relations of the rich, greedy, and powerful Vanger family corporation. The story centers on Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), who is about to go to jail for libeling corporate magnate Hans-Erik Wennerström, in his magazines’ article about the man. With his sources for the information gone, Blomkvist is set to turn himself in for some jail time. However, with a month remaining before he is incarcerated, Blomkvist takes on an assignment for friend of his father’s, the powerful Henrik Vanger to help him determine who killed his niece, Harriet Vanger in 1964. Dirch Frode, lawyer for Vanger, has hired a troubled 24-year-old investigator and computer hacker to check out Blomkvist, and his troubles with the Hans-Erik Wennerström fiasco. The hacker is Lisbeth Salander, a Goth inspired, pierced, and tattooed woman living on the edge. While checking in and reporting on Blomkvist, Lisbeth reports that Blomkvist’s reporting is clean, she thinks there is something more to his story and that he may have been framed. After about the first hour Blomkvist and Lisbeth finally come together to investigate the death of Vanger’s niece.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo runs 152 minutes (2.5 hours), giving plenty of time in the first hour to show Blomkvist, learning details about his issues with the libel affair, and the beginnings of the investigation of the Vanger family. Upon watching actor Michael Nyqvist, portray Blomkvist, one naturally thinks of James Bond and Daniel Craig. Although Nyqvist is older, he and Craig look and act similar. As it turns out, Craig is scheduled to play Blomkvist in the American version of the film with David Fincher directing. Another immediate recognition is that Sven-Bertil Taube, the actor that plays Henrik Vanger looks a great deal like Max von Sydow. While the story around Blomkvist prior to them coming together is deliberate, Lisbeth’s story is more tortured and violent. Being under the supervision of a guardian, either probate or parole, I couldn’t quite tell, the government informs her that her current one had a stroke. Meeting with the new guardian Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), Lisbeth realizes that Bjurman intends to extort her for sex. The scenes are blatant and horrific, however, one finds that Lisbeth not only can take it, she can dish it out. Later, when the middle-aged journalists, and the vivacious cyber-punk join forces to figure out the murder, not only are the scenes deliberate and suspenseful, they are thoughtful and powerful. Director Niels Arden Oplev, does a good job with this lengthy adaptation of Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson’s novel, and tell a captivating story with compelling characters. Working his way through the maze of possible suspects in the Vanger family, the suspense builds as you run your own theories in your head. Watching 31 year-old actress Nooni Rapace play the title character, Lisbeth Salander, you begin to wonder when director Oplev is going to let us have a peek at that tattoo, and how?
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is only the first in of a series of films that star both Rapace and Nyqvist; however, others direct the two succeeding films. Oplev must be commended on bringing excellent photography, good pacing, and an excellent score together to make another good Swedish film that Americans can like since 2008’s Let the Right One In.