Monday, 22 March 2010


Rialto Distribution
Now Showing

The late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy has been selling in the millions over the past few years, so it's no surprise there is a film version of the first book. It is a surprise to learn that it was released in Europe more than a year ago and the two sequels have since been released there. (No surprises either that there will be an American remake, with David Fincher of Seven (1995) and Zodiac (2007) fame tipped to direct.)

The delay shouldn't prevent Australian fans of the books heading to the cinema, eager to see if the weighty tomes are faithfully translated to the screen. On that matter I cannot say, having never read the books, although now having seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I do feel tempted to read the sequels.

When journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist) loses a libel case brought about by a wealthy businessman he accused of gunrunning, he decides to take time away from his independent newspaper, Millennium, before he is expected to serve a brief prison term. But he is soon approached by millionaire Henrik Vanger to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of his niece, Harriet. The old man suspects one of his family members murdered the 16-year-old: he wants to know who and why.

Blomqvist is soon uncovering Vanger family secrets, including several members' links to the Nazis, but it is not until an anonymous source deciphers a clue from the diary of the missing girl that the case takes on an even more sinister tone.

The anonymous tipster is Lisbeth Salander (an excellent Noomi Rapace), the eponymous inked lady. An ace computer hacker hired by Vanger's lawyers to look into Blomqvist before hiring him, Lisbeth has continued hacking into the journalist's computer, hence the tip-off. Soon enlisted by Blomqvist, the pair uncover brutal deaths in the years leading up to Harriet Vanger's disappearance, revealing the handy work of a serial killer.

Yes it's a violent film and the book's original Swedish title, Men Who Hate Women, couldn't be more apt: the murders are grisly and hate-filled. Lisbeth herself is dealing with a parole officer who views her as nothing more than a sex object, and there are a couple of graphic scenes depicting his abuse of power. But Lisbeth's payback is just as brutal.

At 150 minutes, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is long but I was never bored. Once Blomqvist and Lisbeth team up the film kicks up a gear. The one too many false endings in the final stretch, however, did test my patience. But the real mystery for me: for a film set in Sweden, mostly in a snowy winter, why use white subtitles? Why?

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