Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Cast: Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), Erika Berger (Lena Endre), Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), Martin Vanger (Peter Haber), Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), Cecilia Vanger (Markia Lagercrantz), Dirch Frode (Ingvar Hirdwall), Gustav Morell (Bjorn Granath)
Director: Niels Adren Opley
Theatrical release: 02/27/2009 (Sweden), 03/19/2010 (US limited)
DVD Date: 07/06/2011
Running Time: 152 minutes
Note(s): In Swedish with English subtitles. Screenplay adapted from the novel Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (English title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) by Stieg Larsson.
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Review: I am one of the very few people who haven't read any of the books in the Millennium trilogy of thrillers by Stieg Larsson. Probably my loss. I was reluctant to see any of the Swedish language adaptations before reading them, but succumbed to temptation recently and watched Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (literal translation Men Who Hate Women). The English language version of the book is titled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, certainly a more colorful and intriguing title, and in some respects, a more apt one since the movie (and presumably the book) does spend much of its time focused on the activities of one Lisbeth Salander.
The movie opens with investigative reporter Mikael Blomqvist losing a libel trial for falsely reporting on the activities of a corporate titan. He believes he has been set up, but by whom and for what reason, he doesn't know. Separately, an attorney for the founder of one of Sweden's most prominent companies, the Vanger Group, hires a security firm to do a background check on Blomqvist. The lead investigator is Lisbeth Salander, whose talent for hacking computers and gaining access to sensitive information is unparalleled. Lisbeth, however, is not what one would call a "people person", taking on a Goth persona, heavily pierced and tattooed. Dismissed from his job, and with six months before he must report to prison as part of his sentence, Blomqvist takes on an assignment presented to him by the attorney and his client, Henrik Vanger: find out what happened to Harriet Vanger, Henrik's niece, who disappeared 40 years ago when she was 16 years old. The family -- and even the police -- presume she is dead, though her body was never found.
Blomqvist's first lead is what appears to be a coded message left in Harriet's diary. He enters the information in his computer, not realizing that Lisbeth has continued to monitor his activity. She recognizes the meaning of the code, and e-mails him where to look next. He tracks her down, angry at first that someone was "watching" him remotely, but quickly realizing that her talent may be useful in his quest to find out what happened to Harriet.
Män Som Hatar Kvinnor works supremely well as a suspense thriller. The primary questions are, If Harriet was murdered, who killed her? But if Harriet is still alive, where is she and why has she remained in hiding all these years? The clues are buried deep, and Blomqvist and Lisbeth must use low-tech and high-tech methods to get at them. Neither is intimidated by the other, and both are exceptionally resourceful. There's a great scene where Lisbeth is going through a mountain of decades-old paperwork, page by page, and you can just feel her frustration, that this would all be so much easier had the information been digitized and online.
Noomi Rapace is simply outstanding as Lisbeth, a complicated role that she plays at just the right level of depth and intensity. Michael Nyqvist is fine as Blomqvist, but is simply not in the same league as his co-star. They make for an unusual investigative duo, but it's mostly believable, with only a handful of less-than-credible scenes.
I enthusiastically recommend Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, though it should be noted there are a couple of violent, difficult scenes to watch. It's rated R, and probably more accurately a hard R, for a reason.
The second and third books in the trilogy have been adapted for film as well, and I'll definitely get to them sooner than later. Sony is also doing an English-language adaptation of the books (they are careful not to call them "remakes"), casting Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara as Blomqvist and Lisbeth. The first of these films is expected to be released later this year.
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