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Posted on 12/26/11 05:20 PM
Time to review the franchise that's become more popular than Twilight lately. Regarding the first film, it's advertised and described as an adult thriller for a mature audience, however, outside of the graphic violence and sexual themes, it's nothing more than a Agatha Christie run of the mill crime mystery.
Major Spoilers ahead
Lisbeth Salander is the star of the trilogy, as everyone who's paid attention knows, and is played by Noomi Rapace. In Dragon Tattoo she does a great job of becoming the anti-social, disturbed and victimized young woman that's been propped up as a symbol of modern feminism. And although I do find her a breath of fresh air in a sea of mediocre and homogenized protagonists full of Mary Sue characters (google mary sue for the literary reference), the pro-feminism claims are a bit ridiculous.
She's a victim, in every sense of the word, and although she does exact vengeance on the individuals who have harmed her, it doesn't change the fact that this narrative is walking dangerously close to female abuse fantasy. The morbid rape and subsequent revenge torture are sickeningly graphic and unneeded. We can be alerted to the fact she was raped without having to see every disgusting detail, and the same goes with her revenge against Bjurman.
Besides my distaste at those scenes, the other problems have to do with some inconsistencies and just cliche mystery story devices. She's a master class hacker, yet needs her friend to tell her whether or not her computer is broken, let alone the fact that she didn't keep any sort of backup, and she uses an apple, again being a "master" hacker, right. 40 years after a girls supposed murder, her uncle asks a reporter, who was recently convicted of slander, to solve the case that no one else has? The woman who is discovered to be alive and living in Australia, knowing how disturbingly sadistic and violent her brother and father were, never attempted to alert anyone about them? In 40 years!?!
The only saving grace of the film is Noomi Rapace's performance regarding Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Blomkvist. The two do have a very good screen chemistry in this first film and play off each other well, in subtle but endearing ways. However, when Lisbeth suddenly, out of nowhere, jumps Blomkvist's bones, I felt confused, as her character up to that point had been shown to be a lesbian, and after her molestation and violent rape, it felt out of place. It doesn't help that she then simply goes back to acting normal and stand offish and never attempts anything of the like ever again.
The story feels rushed and not very well thought out. Lisbeth at one moment garners your affection, but then the very next makes you feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Perhaps that was the point, but it still made the character hard to fully support as she's just so damn alien.
Overall it's a beautifully shot film with some great performances, it's simply that the narrative structure and plot inconsistencies and holes make the actual tale a bit of a bore and one that doesn't feel very realistic. The ending has got to be the most contrived thing I've seen in a while. But if your looking for a less than complex "who done it" with some great, unique characters, check it out. Just don't expect the story to leave you reeling.