The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

“Martin Vanger, Kobayashi, Redfoot, Henrik Vanger…”

Excellent Swedish adaptation of the first in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Michael Nyqvist stars as crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, recruited to investigate the death of a young girl 30 years previously in a remote part of Sweden. Noomi Rapace plays emo bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander who ends up on Blomkvist’s side in the battle against assorted evil authority figures.

Both actors (when did actresses become actors?) fit very well into the Larsson descriptions, although maybe maybe Nyqvist takes ‘grimly determined’ to unnecessary levels. Rapace is also shorn of any softer edges, which is a bit of a mistake in that she takes on an air of invincibility as a result.

postit However the biggest problem of the movie, when compared to the novel, is the running time. Now you might think that 152 minutes is long enough to tell any story, and it is, but one of the pleasures of Larsson’s novel is the leisurely unravelling of a vast number of  suspects and plot turns, when you’re not sure where the plot is going. Niels Arden Oplev’s adaptation, aided by Jacob Groth’s impressive orchestral score, develops a headlong rush to the finish despite its running time. Individual scenes slam into the next with hardly time to breathe, which is a shame as the locations are perfect and Oplev’s direction is otherwise classy and reserved in the style of recent Scandinavian crime adaptations.

Speaking of which, Nyqvist appeared in both Beck and Wallander; from the latter he’s brought along Lena Endre who plays Millennium magazine’s editor here, and from the former Peter Haber and Ingvar Hirdvall. Both of these play against their established type, and Haber’s terrific performance adds some much-needed flair to the general understatement going on all around him. The only other familiar face to me is Sven Bertil Taube, star of Puppet on a Chain and The Eagle Has Landed in a previous life.

Overall it’s a fine version of the novel, and probably works better if you haven’t any preconceptions. Even if you have, the faults are nitpicking and you’ll be entertained without being bored.

Mild Peril Rating: ★★★★☆

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