Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

As always, its a killer to read the novel first. The excitement goes, expectation increases. And who cares even if objectivity increases!

Right up, THE question - Noomi Rapace is, indeed, a fine Lisbeth Salander. Mean, gutsy, sly, idiosyncratic, and - yours only on her own terms.

The film is, happily, largely faithful to the novel, eschewing most of the side-plots and happenstances, without losing impact - except for one romance, which I will come to, in just a while.

The tale is, of course, of a disgraced journalist being called in by the scion of an industrial empire to solve a 40-year old case of the disappearance of his 16-year old niece.

The story unfolds at an even pace, as Mikael (Michael Nyqvist), the journalist, slowly pieces together strands of the old case. This is juxtaposed with an elaborate introduction of Lisbeth - a sleuth ostensibly, but truly an expert hacker - and what makes her so fascinating - her encounters in the sub-way, her clash with her official guardian, her interactions at work as a researcher. What this elongated piece does is to help the viewer delve into the psyche of Lisbeth, and also gives the film its adrenalin, amidst Mikhail's plodding and pottering.

Rapace is fascinating. And the screenplay nicely puts forth the contradictions and vulnerabilities of her character. Opposite her, Nyqvis' Mikael is effectively tired and beaten. His eyes reflect defeat which slowly grow in confidence, as the case starts to unravel.

The plot itself has its share of red herrings, religious references and depravities - which are par for the course for a decent thriller.

The major grouse comes in the form of the total exclusion of the book's fascinating relationship between Mikael and Erika, the magazine Millinium's editor. Its an absence which makes not only the romantic liasion of the film linear, but also robs the film from the story's complexity of relationships. Maybe that would have weighed down heavily on the structure of the film, but then - it would also have elevated the film onto a sociological plain, instead of being just a thriller with fascinating characters.

Until that is hopefully resoved in subsequent films, we need to double over from the sudden kick in the groin - or lie back and revel in the unexpected pleasure there - courtesy Lisbeth's mood!

~Sunil Bhandari
September 4, 2010
Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone