SXSW Film: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Going into this film I had no idea what to expect, but with Hollywood already talking remake it was a must see at SXSW. Luckily for me, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was worth the remake talk and now lays in the same bed with Let the Right One In, with the fact that a remake left me thinking; why? In my opinion, if a film is as great as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is, it does not warrant a remake but rather praise of it’s original form.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thriller with so many layers it’s hard to describe the film in a simple synopsis, so I’ll just stick to the main plot. Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), a professional hacker with an aversion for piercings and dark make up lives an interesting life. Due to problems in her past she has been assigned a legal guardian even though she is 24. She still strives for the day that she can truly be independent. If her manor of dress or bad attitude doesn’t draw you in her profession will, she is a hacker for hire that will dig through files, dates and pictures to dig up any dirt on the people that she is paid to investigate. It’s these investigations that lead her to Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a publisher of the magazine Millennium that has just lost it all when he was found guilty of slander when he tried to prove that industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstr√∂m was involved in gun running. With nothing to lose Mikael takes a job with Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his niece Harriet Vanger that has not been seen in 40 years. After Mikael starts to piece things together and looks in to the lives of the other members of the Vanger family, mysteries are uncovered and take him on a dangerous path. Still intrigued by Mikael, Lisbeth continues to follow him well after her case has ended and when she sees an opportunity to help with his investigation it brings the two together to discover why Harriet has gone missing.

Though interesting on it’s own, the intrigue of this murderous thriller is completely held together by Lisbeth, a character that left me willing to watch a film solely dedicated to her life. As you watch the film and are given insight to her motivation you can only sit with a sense of needing more. The character is written so beautifully that you get enough information to feel a connection, but still leaving her past and intentions clouded in mystery. Even though every piece of the character bleeds though the page it would have been lost if not for the performance of Noomi Rapace.

Noomi left me thinking one thing as I walked out of the theater, WOW! She is a true talent so much that her acting ability transcends the language barrier. Even though I had to read all of the dialog I could still perceive the emotion that Noomi was portraying. The character of Lisbeth is so multifaceted emotionally and Noomi performed each side exquisitely, so much that I think any Hollywood recreation will be hard fit to replicate.

In fact, that is the only real worry I have for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is that remake tag. The raw and gritty nature of the film will find a difficult place with US audiences, and with out some of the disturbing scenes that the film has, it will lose a lot of it’s mystique. Hopefully I’m wrong and US audiences are ready for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s true form and can handle it’s provocative nature. I just can’t help to think that scenes of extreme violence and rape won’t find their way to the Hollywood version.

If you’re the type of person that has an open mind and loves a great thriller, then this film is for you and I can not suggest you wait for the remake because this film has it all now. The story was so engrossing that I immediately wanted to step back in to the theater for another go. Though I would have to say that the main twist was a little over-foreshadowed, it was the relationship of Noomi and Mikael that remained more fascinating and left me wanting more. Though The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is at times disturbing, the pay off for watching it’s horrific acts are satisfying enough to leave anyone wanting more.

I give The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 4 “Leave the right one alone” out of 5

by Ryan Davis


About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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