Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Rhoades)

“Dragon Tattoo” Brings Thriller to the Screen
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

I’ve read the book. Perhaps you have too. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” has been a bestseller, the first in a trilogy written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson just before he died a few years ago.

The movie version – currently playing at the Tropic Cinema – is fairly faithful to the book. Okay, maybe Lisbeth Selander (the girl of the title) is not quite so anorexic, but I don’t mind.

In “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” Larsson takes two disparate story threads and weaves them together to present a sweeping puzzle: what happened to a 16-year-old heiress who disappeared from an isolated island some 40 years ago.

Out to solve this island version of a locked room mystery is disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist (well played by Michael Nygvist). Under the guise of writing a family history, he’s hired by industrialist Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taub) to identify the family member who’s responsible for this unresolved murder.

Joining him in the hunt is odd-duck researcher Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a computer hacker par excellence and certified social misfit. Punked out with tattoos, spiky hair, and miscellaneous body piercings, she’s a tough little cookie who poses as a slow-witted victim in order to keep the system off her back.

Together, they encounter myriad members of Vanger’s dysfunctional family, as well as lecherous legal guardians and demented neo-Nazis, overprotective security experts and watchdog lawyers, corrupt corporate execs and sadistic serial killers. Plus Blomkvist’s amorous gal-pal editor and Salander’s strange hacker cronies.

This unlikely pairing of middle-aged Blomkvist and twentysomething Salander fuels Larsson’s three mystery novels (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”) – as well as the trio of movies based on these books.

Larsson wrote the novels in evenings after work just for fun. He made little attempt to get them published. Like Blomkvist, he was employed by a magazine that did financial exposés. His death by heart attack at 50 was rumored to have been induced by enemies of his magazine, although there’s no evidence of that.

So far, I’ve only seen the trailers, but the film promises to capture the book visually – from the snowy Swedish winters to the parched Australian Outback to the stark Millennium magazine offices to Salander’s barren apartment.

Filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev directed “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” although in Scandinavia it’s titled “Män som hatar kvinnor” (which translates as “Men Who Hate Women”). Sure, this Yellow Bird film release has subtitles, but the original book was a translation too.

If you’re willing to wait for an English-language version (I’m not) a Hollywood remake is scheduled for 2012, supposedly starring Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan as Lisbeth Salander.
However, I expect you’ll be eagerly joining me this week on the front row at the Tropic Cinema for a showing of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

As you know, I love hard-to-solve mysteries. And investigating a 40-year-old crime in the middle of a Scandinavian winter can certainly be described as a cold case.

[from Solares Hill]

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