Monday, May 3, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) - Niels Arden Oplev

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
Män som hatar kvinnor
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Writer: Nikolaj Arcel (Screenplay), Rasmus Heisterberg (Screenplay), Stieg Larsson (Novel)
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Marika Lagercrantz, Lena Endre, Björn Granath, Ingvar Hirdwall, Peter Andersson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Ewa Fröling, Gunnel Lindblom, Gösta Bredefeldt, Stefan Sauk, Jacob Ericksson, Sofia Ledarp, David Dencik

When I went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) I didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't read the book yet because I am a movie first kind of guy (I have since finished the book and loved it). I knew some very minor plot details, mostly that it involved the investigation of a murder case. Other than that I went in with a pretty clean slate, which I think is the best way to see a movie.

Because I didn't know anything about the movie before hand I was immediately sucked into the story. Honestly, I can't remember the last time a movie has pulled me into the story as completely as this one did. The 40 year old murder mystery that serves as the central plot was completely fascinating. The side plots for each of the characters are just as fascinating as the main story though. As great as the plot is, what really pulled me into this movie was the characters.

Every character manages to have a fascinating story. Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist that has been hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the 40-year-old unsolved disappearance of his niece. Lisbeth Salandar is a hacker that is recruited to help Mikael solve the crime. What makes these characters great is that they are each given a very layered back story that really tells you who the characters are. In fact, before Mikael and Lisbeth met up I thought that each of the characters could easily be interesting enough to carry their own film.

Not only were the characters written as extremely interesting, the actors portray them amazingly well. I do not see Swedish movies that often so I was not familiar with Michael Nyqvist or Noomi Rapace but they both do amazing job playing their characters. Since the characters are both written and acted well the audience is given reason to really care about the characters beyond just wanting them to succeed because they are the good guys.

The movie also just looks amazingly beautiful. I have seen two modern Swedish films (this one and Let the Right One In) and both were amazing beautifully shot film. I am not sure if Sweden is just that beautiful to begin with or if both these movies are just that well shot. The cinematography is really wonderful though. The camera was really able to capture some beautiful albeit very dark imagery. That coupled with some wonderful pacing and editing made for a very wonderful and exciting movie to watch. I can say without a doubt that I am looking forward to the sequels to this movie.

If there is anything negative I could say about the movie it is that the ending drags out just a bit too long for my taste. Unfortunately this is a neccesary evil of setting up so many intricate back stories and side plots. While those things really helped to make the movie fascinating, having to tie up all the loose ends really made the ending come to a crawl. I was still intrigued by how everything was concluded but it just felt like it was taking a little to long.

Rating: 8/10

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