tek's rating:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (R)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is a Swedish movie from 2009, based on a book first published in Sweden in 2005. I read the English translation of the book in 2010, and I'm watching the movie in December of 2011. You can read my review of the book here, if you like. Anyway, I'm watching the DVD of the Swedish movie now because later this month, the American remake of the movie will be opening in theaters. I don't know if it'll play anywhere near me, but even if it does, I very much doubt I'd get to see it. I'll probably watch it on DVD itself, someday. But in any event, it just seemed appropriate to watch the original movie now. Edit to add: I originally listed this under "drama", and if I recall correctly, at the time I didn't have movie review categories for either "crime films" or "mystery films", both of which I now feel might be a bit more appropriate. Still, I don't remember it well enough to be sure about moving the review out of "drama", but I will add a secondary link under "mystery".

It starts with Henrik Vanger receiving a pressed flower in the mail, for his 82nd birthday, as in the book. Then we see a reporter from a magazine called Millennium, Mikael Blomkvist, being convicted of libel against a businessman named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Blomkvist is one of the main characters of the story. The other main character is a 24-year-old woman (in very punk attire) named Lisbeth Salander, a researcher who works for Milton Security. The company had been hired to research Blomkvist, on behalf of Vanger, who was thinking of hiring him... (I feel like the alternating stories of these two characters is more evenly interspersed in the movie than in the book, but my memory of the book may be faulty).

Anyway... so Blomkvist is supposed to go to prison, but that won't happen for like six months. Meanwhile, it's decided that he should step down from Millennium, at least for awhile, to preserve the magazine's reputation. And he takes a job working for Henrik Vanger, former head of a company called the Vanger Group, trying to figure out who killed his niece, Harriet, 40 years ago, when she was 16. (Coincidentally, Blomkvist's father had worked for Vanger at the time, so when Mikael had been young, he'd spent some time in Hedestad, where Vanger lives, and had actually met Harriet. I think there's a bit more flashing back to that than there was in the book.) Unlike in the book, there doesn't appear to be a cover story for why Blomkvist is staying in Hedestad. Everyone knows right away that he's investigating Harriet's supposed murder. (She had disappeared, though her body was never found.) Henrik believes one of his relatives had killed Harriet, to shake him up so that they could gain more power in the Vanger Group. He suspects both everyone and no one; decades of obsessive investigation has provided no answers. (Oh, also unlike in the book, it doesn't seem that Henrik offers Mikael any evidence against Wennerstrom.)

Meanwhile, Salander has problems of her own. Because of a history of psychiatric trouble, she is required to have a legal guardian, and her old one has recently had a stroke. He's replaced by a new guardian, named Bjurman, who takes control of her finances. He won't let her have access to her own money unless she lets him do... vile sexual things to her. (This is hard to watch, and seriously makes you want to kill the bastard.) Luckily, Salander has her own creative and eminently satisfying means of exacting revenge and liberating herself.

But back to the main story, she continues to look into what Blomkvist is doing, having hacked his computer. She ends up making a realization concerning some of his research into the case, and e-mails him about what she's figured out. About that time, Henrik has a heart attack, before Blomkvist can talk to him, so instead he talks to Dirch Frode, the lawyer who had hired Milton Security on Henrik's behalf, and mentions that his computer had been hacked. Frode reveals his suspicion that Salander is the hacker, so Blomkvist goes to her apartment and asks for her help in investigating the murder case. Which she does, as well as eventually becoming his lover. (Some help in the case will also be received by Morell, the police detective who had originally worked the case.)

Well, I don't actually want to give any details of their investigation, or the murderer it eventually uncovers... nor of another twist in the story. Of course, a great deal from the book was left out. It's like a two and a half hour movie, but it was a long book, so naturally it couldn't all be included. (I should say, there was less sex and less sexual partners than in the book.) And I suppose some details were changed, but the essence of the case was all basically the same. Dunno what else to say. It was a pretty decent movie. Of course, some scenes were compelling regardless of language barrier, though there were some bits I might have found more engaging if I wasn't distracted by constantly reading subtitles. Still, the acting was good, and the story was as faithful to the novel as could reasonably be hoped, I suppose.

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