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December 29, 2011 / magickittenblogs

Beware spoilers – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Orange Wednesdays this week was the new English-language version of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.

Before we go any further, I have to admit that TGwtDT is one of only two books I’ve ever started and not finished. The other is Emma by Jane Austen. With that one, Emma herself just annoyed me so much that I couldn’t bear spending any more time in her company. With Dragon Tattoo, I found it so slow to start that I was bored rigid and decided to try some Jo Nesbo instead (which, by the way, was great – start with The Redbreast).

Consequently, I went into the film knowing only the following:
The main character is a journalist;
He’d been done for libel;
He had a weird affair going on with his work partner;
He goes to talk to an old man on an island about Nazis;
There’s some violence against women, of a more than usually unpleasant nature.
Add to this my mum’s verdict of the original film (it was disgusting, don’t watch it) and you can understand why I was sceptical…

Both my companions knew the story so I was reassured that they still wanted to see it, plus there was the added draw of Daniel Craig in a variety of tasteful knitwear (what red-blooded woman could resist?). Oh and the excellent Trent Reznor soundtrack.

I had the feeling we were onto a winner when the film had an almost Bond-esque proper opening title sequence, with black oil/rubber/leather-looking shapes forming and reforming, giving hints at some of the key themes.

The acting was top-notch throughout, from a proper all-star cast. Craig (Blomqvist) was great, as was Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander), Christopher Plummer (Henrik Vanger) and Stellan Skarsgaard (Martin Vanger). The use of camera angles was subtle yet effective, with delicate but stunning use of natural contrasts of light and dark. There was also a lot of humour – Lisbeth’s t shirt when Blomqvist calls round is great.

There are, though, some pretty grim bits, to say the least. We witness sexual abuse and sexual violence against women, as well as violent revenge, and we hear about some very grisly murders, again of women, although these aren’t dwelt on for long. I would say that those who perpetrate the violence do get their comeuppance but I can also see why the film gets its 18 certificate and why some people will find two particular scenes a step too far. I personally don’t feel that the violence in the film is gratuitous; I think it’s dealt with in a very sensitive manner and at no point are we invited to sympathise with the abusers.

All that being said, I really enjoyed it. It’s not a short film but the pace is great throughout; there’s no time to get bored (although you may want to pay a couple a quid more for the comfy seats). The mystery is gripping, it’s still a great retelling even if you know the story, and I’m keen to see the next in the series.

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