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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Genre Mystery
Year: 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been swathed in mystery since the inception of Lisbeth Salander. Late political activist and  journalist turn world famous crime fiction author, Stieg Larsson, delivered the first three parts of the Millenium series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest before suffering a heart attack at the age of 50 a few days later. The trilogy quickly became a bestseller partly spurred on by this morose, yet intriguing prelude to its publication with Larsson preparing to write more chapters to the Millenium series.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) and Lisbeth Salander (Rapace), who became ensnared in a 40-year-old mystery surrounding a girl's disappearance. Blomkvist is a journalist, who takes the case on - quickly becoming obsessed with Harriet Vanger. After Salander is commissioned to dig up some dirt on Blomkvist, she begins to use her hacker skills to aid him on his quest.

It's a dark mystery thriller, which is no surprise if you consider the translation of its original Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women. There are several grisly scenes involving rape and mutilation. While these dark scenes are difficult to watch, they are essential to unlocking Lisbeth Salander's character and her ensuing need to assist Blomkvist in his search for the missing girl. With a couple of photos and a family tree, Blomkvist takes the investigation into the heart of the Vanger estate operating from a small cabin.

The film is the first part of the trilogy, yet manages to draw the chapter to a close as if it were a stand-alone movie. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s pacing is good and it holds your attention for the full 152 minute run time. The last 20 minutes may seem a little drawn out for some, but it’s in keeping with the novel and is simply setting the platform for the sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

David Fincher is already remaking the film for an American audience, which is just a reflection of how strong Larsson's story and characters are. The Millenium series success and the inspirational trilogy of movies will also have a major influence on this decision and of course Fincher's affinity for dark thrillers like Zodiac. Interestingly enough, Fincher actually offered Yo-landi Visser the role of Lisbeth Salander. The casting decision was inspired, given Visser is integral to Die Antwoord and that he was being inundated by more recognised actresses.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo plays into some fairly dark corners for a thriller. Michael Nyqvist, probably best known for As It Is In Heaven, delivers another solid performance as Blomkvist. His obsessive personality attachs him to the case as he doggedly persists in uncovering the truth. Noomi Rapace owns the role of Lisbeth Salander making it difficult for Rooney Mara to fill in the upcoming remake scheduled for 2011 with Daniel Craig as Blomkvist, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright and Stellan Skarsgard in support. Rapace is relatively unknown to international audiences, making it easy to believe she's Salander and fits the bill in terms of dark, rebellious outcast.

While the remake is going on... Danish director, Niels Arden Oplev has turned to television after completing the trilogy in 2009 - a medium well-suited to the drama thriller as demonstrated by the countless CSI and detective series out there. The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo feels like a condensed TV series at 152 minutes and there's plenty of room for detail and more drawn out drama. Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace have already done several episodes in the Millenium series, which has been well-received according to user ratings and media speculation.This makes an international remake seem a little dubious with the possibility of an over-saturation before its release date.

Nevertheless, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is fascinating - even to those that know the story well. The film-making is top-notch and Oplev swathes the audience in the disappearance of the young Harriet Vanger in much the same way as David Lynch did for Twin Peaks, putting a girl at the centre of a small community's dark, threatening history. There are similarities with Apt Pupil, The Lovely Bones and Fire Walk with Me with a sharper focus on reality. It's a treat for fans of crime fiction and dark thrillers. If you read the book you'll love it and if you haven't... you'll want to.

The bottom line: Enchanting.


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