Thursday, December 30, 2010

the girl with the dragon tattoo

A bit of a boring article, but it would be a shame not to use what I wrote. As mentioned in my article on American adaptations, I was simply bored one day and wanted to see a movie that I didn't have to worry about "I wanted to see that!" backlash from the parents or sister. This is the movie that finally pushed me into writing the American adaptation article, and initially this was part of a double article that was supposed to go with it. It didn't work, and I split them, so what's here is simply what I had to cut. Various sources had told me that this was a good movie, was to be three parts long, was subtitled, and to boot all of the press material for it had interested me. I don't do ratings, but I can give a bit of a general recommendation for it, especially if you like any of the movies I will be listing later.

This Swedish movie is probably best compared to Red Dragon in terms of tone, subject matter, content, and pacing. Trailers and the first 10 minutes had me hoping for something like The Bourne Identity, but I'm happy with the story as it is. It's just over two hours long, which is longer than average, but it never really felt like it was going on longer than it needed to. There is some stuff in the movie that feels a bit out of place, but most of it makes sense by the end. Sorry, but this will be mainly spoiler-free. It's main (but non-title) character is a man named Mikael who works for a magazine office. He uncovers a conspiracy involving a corporate rich guy, finds out he was set up and is publicly humiliated. He can't find work, and is solicited to investigate a 40 year-cold murder because......... he's the best I think. He enlists the help of Lisbeth, a hacker, and they're off. The movie has all of the appropriate and interesting turns and twists you'd expect from a decent mystery movie. It's also got a Silence of the Lambs dose of violence, shocks, and obscenity. There's nobody in the movie quite as disturbed as Hannibal Lecter or Buffalo Bill, but they get pretty close. One or two characters are into the bondage ...... thing, for instance, and while there is nudity in the movie, it's somehow not the most shocking part of it. What's more shocking is usually what's actually going on in a few of the scenes.

For instance, the movie deals closely and graphically with the subject of rape, and while it's never really pleasant to watch that sort of thing, the movie at least deals with it about as tastefully as can be done in a movie without sacrificing impact. The title character is a victim herself, and the audience sees most of it happen, but with almost all of the nudity cut out by angles and blockage, which at least makes it a little less intense. Any nudity in the film is usually outside of that particular subject matter. The psychological effects of it are shown throughout, with her constantly flinching while she sleeps, as well as being distrustful of men in general, even Mikael. The film deals with it entirely tonally, as that part of Lisbeth's life is not really part of the story proper. It's developed probably as part of the three-movie/book arc. To see what really happens to her, you probably have to watch all 3. Her story is developed apart from Mikael's until about 45 minutes in, when Mikael realizes she's been hacking into his computer. He finds her and asks for her help because she had previously (and anonymously) solved a part of the murder and sent it to him. They meet and after a brief "why should I help you?" discussion, they pair up.

 I don't really want to give anything more away. It's not even really giant spoiler territory, I just feel like the more I go on about it, the less you will be inclined to rent it. If you want spoilers, just Wiki. This movie didn't give me what I was expecting in a few regards. Based on the movie poster, the trailer, and the first few minutes of it, I was expecting something more cat-and-mouse. Surprisingly, this movie is that, but it's a little less personal than you might expect. It's not like Catch Me If You Can, Silence of the Lambs, or Sherlock Holmes where there's a more intimate relationship between the killer and the "detective". It's more like the first part of A Beautiful mind where it's a smart guy and his clues for a while. It's very push-pins and maps, but it's also pretty thrilling just because the characters are interesting. We have a writer for a magazine who is about 45 years old teaming up with a 24 year-old hacker with serious trust issues, and their working relationship is kind of fun to watch. Like any good mystery, there's satisfaction in figuring out the crime little by little, too. Even though I didn't get what I expected, what I did get was just as good. This is one of the best detective stories I've seen since (this is weird) Heavy Rain and is way better than Sherlock Holmes because it's actually a mystery story. As if this wasn't already clear, it's like The Bourne Identity (odd couple partners in Europe) meets Red Dragon (sex crimes and murder mystery). Rent if you like either. 

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