The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Year: 2009
Production Co: Danmarks Radio (DR)
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Writer: Nikolaj Arcel/Rasmus Heisterberg/Stieg Larsson
Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace

The main character discovers that someone he's been looking for might be living in Australia, so he travels all the way from his native Sweden to find her on a cattle ranch among the picturesque desert gorges wearing an Akubra hat. When he walks up behind her, I expected her to turn around and say 'stone the flamin' crows, are you fair dinkum, cobber?' That's what sort of movie this was.

I don't mean one that Рlike most international films about Australia Рcan't let go of the romantic ideal that we all hunt crocodiles or own sheep stations in the outback. I just mean the veil of respectability of its bestselling book source material can't disguise what a clich̩d potboiler it is.

There's nothing wrong with the narrative per se, it's just that if you've watched any high profile drama thriller from the last ten years you'll know all the big reveals five minutes before they happen. I can't say much without spoiling it –suffice it to say too many authors (and screenwriters) put a moustache twirling villain in the foreground to distract from the fact the murderer is the kindly old granny or the parish priest. It's also not that the clues were badly handled, it's just that filmgoers have seen it so many times we know it's the parish priest way before the hero figures it out.

Reporter Blomkvist (Nyqvist) is set up investigating a corrupt businessman and loses his job and the respect of the industry over it, taking a job offer by a rich industrialist to solve the forty-year-old disappearance of a favourite niece.

With little to go on but a bunch of photos, he makes amazingly simple deductions with conveniently placed coincidences the police of the time missed and is soon hot on the trail of what appears to be a cabal of Nazis carrying out ritual killings according to Bible passages.

At the same time, antisocial computer hacker Lisbeth (Rapace) escapes the sexually sadistic yoke of her ward (he's her mental health counselor or something, it's never really explained) and joins the reporter to help with his case after knowing all about him thanks to a report she's compiled for her last employer.

Not to detract from the suffering she goes through at the hands of such a monster (and the revenge will both satisfy you and make you cringe), but her whole story up until she joins Blomqvist to help him is irrelevant, her original connection to him tenuous to begin with.

The film also suffers strongly from Lord of the Rings syndrome, wrapping up three levels of storytelling with multiple endings. It's honestly not a bad film, it's just much more of a 'B movie' than the cultural cachet of Stieg Larsson's following would have you believe.

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