I went into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (henceforth known as TGWTDT because I have lazy sloth fingers) having no concept of the story or the characters. My mother, who has read all of the books and saw the movie last week, assured me that the movie was very true to the book and that I would enjoy myself. I trust her opinion, and I also trust David Fincher, so making the decision to go see the movie was a no-brainer.
The opening credit sequence is absolutely inexplicable. Everything looks like it’s made of tar and things keep exploding and absorbing into each other. This is underscored by the rabid and epic cover of “The Immigrant Song” by Karen O. and Trent Reznor, which accompanied all of the film’s theatrical trailers. It is abstract and loud and a perfect beginning to this movie. I found that the opening credits did a very good job of pushing any extraneous, nagging thoughts out of my head and pumping me up for what was to come.
TGWTDT starts at a running pace, and I found myself worried that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up. You see, Swedish is a very sexy accent, but it’s hard to follow sometimes.
About twenty minutes into the film, any difficulty with comprehension disappears. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most gripping and complex characters I have ever come across and Rooney Mara did an amazing job of taking Stieg Larsson’s character and turning her into a living, breathing badass.
Lisbeth is a young woman who has been betrayed, time and time again, by the world around her. She has been a ward of the state since she was twelve years old, and most have tossed her off as a dangerous and non-productive member of Swedish society. The abuse that she has endured throughout her life propels her to accept a murder case that Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is trying to solve for the extremely wealthy Vanger family.
One of these horrific abuses is portrayed in the film, so I would like to send out a trigger warning to those who may need it. While it is a painful scene to watch, the revenge that Lisbeth exacts on her abuser is brutal and deeply satisfying.
Even though the film runs about two hours and forty minutes, I never found myself bored. The mystery of the Vanger family as well as the back-stories of both Lisbeth and Mikael kept the plot fresh and the pace clipping along. The storylines of Lisbeth and Mikael run parallel for the first chunk of the movie, and by the time the two characters first meet, their personalities and convictions are so fleshed out that it is a joy to see how they could possibly interact with each other.
TGWTDT is a fast-paced, character-driven mystery aided all the more by David Fincher’s well-articulated vision and Stieg Larsson’s intricate portrayal of the dark side of Sweden.