Film: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Cast includes: Michael Nyqvist (The Black Pimpernil), Noomi Rapace (Labyrint)
Director: Niels Arden Oplev (Worlds Apart)
Genre: Mystery/drama/suspense thriller, based on a novel by Stieg Larsson (2009), Swedish with subtitles

In brief: A 40-year-old mystery is about to bring together journalist, Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker/researcher Lisbeth Salander. When Henrik Vanger, former CEO of Vanger companies, receives yet another framed botanical specimen through the mail, he knows it’s a devious taunt. His niece Harriet used to make them until she disappeared 40 years ago. Henrik is an old man now, but he has to know what happened to his favorite niece. Mikael was a young boy when he last visited the Vanger family compound on Hedeby Island, but he can still remember the beautiful young Harriet… only 16 when she disappeared.

As it happens Mikael’s career takes a detour when he is found guilty of libel against a wealthy industrialist. Although Mikael is innocent, he doesn’t want to drag it out by appealing. While in limbo between a tattered career at Millennium Magazine and prison, Henrik’s job offer of investigating the unsolved mystery has appeal. Mikael moves into a house on the island and starts reconstructing clues. But the police have already been down all the same roads, and they all look like dead ends… until Mikael gets an email from Wasp. Wasp suggests an interesting way to look at one of the puzzle pieces. As it turns out Wasp is Lisbeth Salander, a talented but socially challenged young woman who regularly hacks into Mikael’s computer and snoops. When she sees what Mikael is currently stumped on, she can’t help offering a clue. Mikael tracks her down and implores her to help with the case.

There are actually several mysteries in this story. For one thing, Lisbeth is just about the most antisocial individual imaginable. How did she become the way she is? She’s a tiny little thing, who obviously has a history. Her style is seriously Goth, but it’s not a fashion statement. It’s her way of telling the world to leave her the hell alone. That’s why it’s so hard for her to agree to become involved with Mikael’s case… working with people, not just computers. But he needs her, and she reluctantly agrees. Don’t expect her to be sociable.

Based on a hugely popular novel by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an old fashioned mystery at heart. While there are a lot of modern ingredients in the story, Agatha Christie fans will recognize many classic plot elements… a closed circle of unsavory family members… no clues pointing to anyone in particular… but lots of reasons to suspect wrongdoing… even murder. It’s a story format that’s a little dated, but those of us who love a good mystery are always glad when a new and intriguing one comes along. When Mikael asks Henrik whom he suspects, Henrik replies, “Nobody. And everybody.”

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

Popped kernels for suspense and a really interesting main character. Thought the movie was better than the book, but that's just my opinion.

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream limited release & art house
Mood: Neither upbeat nor somber
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Computer Effects
Character Development: Engaging
Language: Swedish
Social Significance: Pure entertainment

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