VOD film review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 Original)
Chilling Swedish backdrop8
Ivan Radford | On 02, Mar 2014
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Sven-Bertil Taube
Watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Thanks to Henning Mankell and Let the Right One In, Sweden is getting a reputation for its nasty sociopathic murders. Wintry snow-filled regions, it seems more a fascinating tableau of literary horrors than a country. The first of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy works the same disturbing magic: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a chilling plunge into Sweden’s brutal climate.
Obviously, this is not the Sweden of the real world – its population would be vastly reduced by homicide if that were the case. This is a dark, brooding place where isolated landscapes and cold subway tunnels all add to the moody tension. There are no action-packed set pieces on show – this is a confident, old-fashioned thriller, one that moves slowly and deliberately, with a solid pace and strong roster of characters.
Queen of them all is Lisbeth Salander (Rapace), computer hacker and security researcher, who finds herself helping disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) to investigate the murder of a wealthy businessman’s niece decades before. Drawn into a web of family history and deceit, the hunt for the killer (whose victim disappeared in a locked-room scenario) feels almost like an Agatha Christie novel. But this is much harsher to take in.
Rape, misogyny and racism all come into play, taking the narrative away from its crime story and fleshing out its main lead: as the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace is enigmatic, assertive, and absolutely absorbing. And this is key to Larsson’s triumph, so well translated to the screen: a compelling central character that gives Rapace so much to work with.
Battling against her sadistic social worker, Lisbeth’s shocking struggle is captivating to watch. And whenever she’s in the frame, you won’t want to look away. Even when she grabs a golf club. Nyqvist is spot-on, too, as the wearied reporter trying to clear his name, leading a cast of excellent supporting actors. And with Niels Arden Oplev’s strong eye behind the camera, this stylish thriller makes for a slick piece of cinema. You won’t have seen anything quite like this before. The good news? There are two others to complete the trilogy.