Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009)

Make no mistake about it...this girl will fuck you up.
1) The brilliance of this film is how it is at its core a true hardboiled detective mystery with its central detective split into two. Even more brilliant is how what we assume would be the qualities for a male and female detective team are switched--it's the male who works on intuition and is the partner in jeopardy, while the female does the number crunching and clue digging, and is the muscle...

2) And in keeping with its status as a hardboiled mystery, the mystery Mikael and Lisbeth uncover is not the mystery they--well, Mikael--were hired to solve. That mystery is solved off-panel, in a way that is almost off-handed but manages to give us what most hardboiled mysteries lack--a genuinely happy ending.

3) You know, I've made some noise in previous Ten Statements about the unlikelihood of the romantic relationships in some films where there's a notable age difference. it actually works, thanks in part to the performance and chemistry between Michael Nyqvist's Mikael and Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth. And while I'm not sure if this is the strength of the script or the source material, it works precisely because it's so problematic to the two leads; when Lisbeth admits to her mother toward the end 'Yes, there is someone...but you never fall in love," you know she's lying a little bit, and you know she's actually happy with it because their feelings emerged organically.

4) I really have to wonder if the American remake will have the courage to keep the two leads separate for over an hour of their film's running time. If they choose not to, it'll be a shame--one of the reasons I was engaged during that hour was trying to figure out how their two stories would intersect. And speaking of that American remake...

5) It continued to strike me throughout how easy it will be to adapt this for American audiences. The only thing that doesn't translate well is the whole probationary subplot that takes up part of the first act. Hell, even the setting has an uncannily accurate analog here in the islands off of Seattle. Although I'll admit I kept seeing Liam Neeson and Faruzia Balik in the place of Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.
See this plotline?  It will never be mentioned again...

6) I know Rapace already has Sherlock Holmes: Book of Shadows in the can...but please, Lord, prevent her from going down the Casey Mulligan Road. This woman is too, too good an actress, with an intensity that seems to suck the light away from the air around her, to be reduced to just another cookie-cutter ingenue.
7) I know people are going to ask about my thought concerning the probationary subplot....I recognize that it's essential to establishing Lisbeth's moral code and gives us a clue as to the trauma in her background....but it's extremely uncomfortable to watch, and I can't imagine it making it to the American version.

8) I am so grateful that the American release of this film went with the title of the novel, as the Swedish title would have tipped off the viewer to a major plot point....

This man is going to regret doing this to Lisbeth in about
fifteen minutes time....
9) Oddly enough--given how so many critics talk about the violence being extreme, the only real violence we see is from the above mentioned probationary subplot. We see a lot of aftermath (one sequence, where Mikael and Lisbeth are brought to the scene of a long-ago crime, and as the camera moves with them we see the actual body as it was found back in the 50's is both beautiful and chilling), but the rest is done very subtlely...another thing I worry might be out the window come the American version.

10) If there is a flaw, it's in the sketchiness of Mikael's background. There's an implied relationship with a co-worker, some other stuff about his career...but nothing else. His history is so weak that when he mentions he's divorced at one point, I was actually shocked.

Overall...a very powerful film that serves as a legitimate noir mystery, centered around a credible team of investigators and a truly viscous performance by Rapace.

This DVD also contained a number of trailers, including one for the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire. The one that truly surprised me, and makes me curious to see it, is OSS-117: Lost In Rio, apparently a spy spoof set in 1960's Cuba featuring a clueless secret agent that looks like stupid fun.

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