As some of you may remember, I originally won passes to an advance screening of The Descendents. Unfortunately, the screening filled up very quickly and I could not get in. The Georgia Straight kindly then gave me two passes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I attended the screening last night.
I’d like to preface my review of the film by saying that I have obviously been living under a rock and did not know anything about this movie before last night. So, I went in not knowing about the novels or the Swedish films. Upon watching the opening credit sequence, I was prepared to watch something similar to a James Bond movie. The images presented were like something out of Goldfinger interpreted by someone who had seen The Matrix. Yet, I was in for a shock when I quickly realized that I was watching something far edgier and deeper than a Bond movie.
The basic plot involves disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) investigating a 40-year-old crime. He is asked to find out what happened to Harriet, a 16-year-old girl who disappeared from an island inhabited by the most dysfunctional family you are ever likely to meet. His assistant on the case is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who has considerable issues of her own. There is also a secondary plot involving Blomkvist and the source of his disgrace: a conviction for libel.
This movie is very, very graphic in its depictions of violence, particularly violence against women. The title of the original novel, Män som hatar kvinnor – Men Who Hate Women, prepares the audience for this. The dark, misogynistic world these characters inhabit is a difficult one to watch. I was certainly not the only one cringing during the screening of the film. However, the main story is a compelling mystery and the character of Lisbeth Salander is incredibly complex. At times, she is an avenging angel. At other moments, a skilled and brilliant investigator. I found myself feeling sympathy for her throughout the film, too. She yearns for love and compassion, but is understandably reluctant to open herself up to it.
I was glued to the screen whenever the main, mystery story was in progress and when Salander’s life away from the case was being presented. The libel subplot was not as compelling and I felt that the way the movie was bookended with it was unnecessary. Without giving anything away, it seemed that the movie had come to a natural conclusion long before the actual conclusion was shown. I would recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with the following advisory:
If you are looking for a heart-warming, Christmasy story – go see Hugo; it’s great! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lives up to its tagline: “It’s the feel bad movie of Christmas.”