Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Man Som Hattar Knivvor) (2009) Review

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Director: Niels Adren Oplev
Year: 2009
Country: Sweden

What has become an international sensation, and one of my personal favorite books, has been successfully adapted into an award winning universally acclaimed film directed by Niels Adren Oplev, starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. Swedish film industry has done a come back in the past few years, with Let the Right One In and these films mostly, and they are heavy. This film is a very well done adaptation, though not too faithful with the source material, but still a great, thrilling and entertaining film.

Mikael Blomkvist (Micael Nyqvist) is found guilty of libel after publishing a story with no credible evidence about an industrialist magnate Hans Erik-Wennerstrom (Stefan Sauk). Months before his conviction to start, he is hired by a powerful and wealthy industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), head of the Vanger Corporation, to investigate what happened almost 40 years before when his niece, Harriet Vanger, dissappeared and was never found. But Blomkvist will need the help of Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), genius hacker who helped the Vanger family with the research on Blomkvist. But to uncover the truth about Harriet's dissapearance they must have to deal with the Vanger family, a power thirsty clan that hides darker secrets than possibly imagined.

Part of what makes this film so excellent are the magnificent performances. Particularly good was Noomi Rapace as the antisocial, genius hacker, problematic Lisbeth Salander. She certainly acts, thinks, lives and breathes like Lisbeth Salander. She's perfectly fitting fr the role. The whole time while reading the book I had an idea of Lisbeth Salander quite similar to Noomi Rapace, and not because I had seen her on the posters or trailers (because I seldom saw them), so she's perfectly fitting, but not only that but also she becomes her character, adopting all the little expressions or ticks that she may have. Michael Nyqvist, who plays Mikael Blomkvist, is also great at becoming the journalist. His performance is, as with Noomi Rapace, a perfect impersonation of the character in the book, though there is one little detail: for some reason, I thought he would be blonde. But that aside, he's perfectly adecuate for the role.

What impressed me the most, probably, was the direction. The film is extremely well shot, employing perfect use of cinematography, capturing all the beautiful landscapes and settings the Swedish fields have to offer. But that's not all what the direction has to give, because it also can provide pulse-quickening pace and a suspenseful aura. Niels Adren Oplev directs his film perfectly, by capturing the wonderful view of the settings, creating a thrilling mood and getting his actors to do their best. Add all this with some fast pace editting and you've got a wonderful full of twists and thrills ride.

But then there is the screenplay. Here is where I probably had most of the problems I had with this film. I'm not saying that the film was badly written, no, on the contrary, its script is pretty good. But what is the problem here is the adapting of the book. While I don't want it to be a perfect adaptation, a complete translation from paper to screen, I would have liked it to be a little more faithful to Stieg Larsson's novel. This might not be a problem to most, but for me it was. The book is one of the most exciting and intriguing books I've read and certainly alot of what made it this way was left out of the film. *SPOILERS WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD.* For example, the fact that they wrote Anita Vanger out of the movie angers me a little. She was very important for the book's narrative, and she was the one that helped them solver Harriet's mystery, so by writing her out they simply skipped an important and interesting part of the book. Also, Mikael's relationship with both Cecilia Vanger and Erika Berger weren't even mentioned, and that constituted an important amount in the novel. As well as the Wennerstrom affair, which was barely touched in the film, while in the book it covers about at least one fourth and it was what motivated Blomkvist in the first place to take the job. I also didn't like the role the Vanger family as a whole played in the movie. While in the book extended paragraphs and even chapters were dedicated to develop many of these characters which was part of what I liked the most and made the story more intriguing, in the film they were barely there. Maybe there was too much to fit into the film, but the filmmakers could have at least given the family a more important role than being on the suspects list. And also, though this might not be too much of the film's faithfullness, I thought that Blomkvist's and Salander's relationship wasn't that strong in the film as it was in the book, and that is a very important aspect in the film. Just think if in Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling's relationship wouldn't have worked. The whole film as a whole wouldn't have either. And while in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo it is not a major issue, there is this feeling of the lack of the special chemistry they shared on the book. *SPOILERS OVER* But other than the unfaithfullness of the script and some other minor issues, the film has some powerful writing. The dialogues are sharp and smart and the characters, for the ones who are, are given their fair share of participation and development. So the only main problem I had with the film was it not being too faithful to the novel.

With Niels Adren Oplev's strong direction, astounding central performances by Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, and the power of Stieg Larsson's powerful source material, the film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo shines. If only the filmmakers would have stuck along with the story a little moe this film would have probably gotten a perfect score. But that aside, I can safely say that this is one of the best films released in 2010.
My recommendation: It may be too harsh at times for some viewers, but for those who can stand torture and sexual violence this is a must see.
My score: 92-94%


  1. This review is fantastic. Wonderful job. I will admit that I have yet to get involved in either the book or film series, but after reading this I really want to.

  2. Excellent review CACB!!! I was facsinated by the entire film, its one of my faviorite films of the year.

  3. Great review - yes I enjoyed this film a lot. Shame about part 2 and 3 though....hopefully Fincher will do those parts jutsice.

  4. Very good review,
    Despite all the buzz around these films, I've never really been interested in them or the books, maybe some day I might check them out but I feel no urge to at the moment...

    I enjoyed reading your review though!

  5. @Sparky, thnxs and I can highly recommend it
    @Chris, thnxs and it is one of mines too
    @Michael, Thnks man, but I haven't seen part 2 and 3, but if they are as mediocre as people say then I sure hope Fincher does make them justice
    @Jack, thnxs and I can recommend them, but maybe reading the book beforehand is better