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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I hadn't heard of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy until, one day, I happened upon the poster for the film adaption of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (or Men Who Hate Women in its original Swedish). I'm not one to usually judge or make a decision about a movie based on something as trivial as a poster, but the poster for this film really interested me into looking up more information about the films and their respective novels. Apparently, the series revolved around a controversial journalist and a goth hacker investigating into mysterious matters in a way that resembled the old detective-fiction films. I'm a fan of such works, so I waited in anticipation of the first film's release on DVD. Now that's it out, I can say that the film was really good...but short of great.

The film follows two main characters in their respective narratives - Mikael Blomkvist, a controversial and radical journalist who cares more about truth than publicity, and Lisbeth Salander, a gothic and troubled hacker who's been abused for most of her life. Blomkvist's story starts after it's announced that he lost the libel case against corrupt Swedish industrialist Hans-Erk Wennerstorm. Sentenced to three months in jail, Blomkvist knows that he can't appeal the case as all of his sources have either disappeared or turned out to be faulty. Meanwhile, Salander is secretly tracking Blomkvist for a client, Dirch Frode, at her firm. After much research, though, Salander believes that Blomkvist may have been set up. Before anything in this matter can be settled, however, Blomkvist is hired by an elderly man to help find out whatever happened to a young girl, Harriet, who vanished without a trace over 40 years ago. While Blomkvist is investigating this matter, Salander must deal with a new guardian - as she's considered unstable - that begins to sexually abuse her.

The characters are interesting, that's for sure, but the film is more focused on plot and intrigue than on character interaction. It's not too bad of a flaw as the mystery's very fascinating, but a character-orientated film would've proven for a far greater cinematic experience. I digress, though, and will admit that the character of Lisbeth Salander is very intriguing and her dark background only makes her that much more interesting. Maybe it's because I have an affinity for the gothic, but I actually really did enjoy the character of Lisbeth. She was reserved, skillful, and incredibly lethal when she needed to be - a very well-written character indeed. Blomkvist, on the other hand, felt very bland to me. He was still interesting and worthy of remaining in the film, but he felt like a generic thriller protagonist for the majority of the time. His personality was thin and heavily lacking when compared with Lisbeth, who had a much more interesting and complex background.

While the film puts more attention on plot than on character, the plot's still really good. The mystery element was very engrossing, leading down through various twists and turns as mysteries often do. Not only that, but the mystery felt very believable from start to finish. Nowhere during the film's 2 1/2 runtime did I think that the events were too outrageous, far-fetched, or anything of that sort. The film aims for realism, though exaggerated events are always going to exist in fiction, and I think the film did pretty well with what it had. It was fascinating, involving, and was always two steps ahead of its audience.

The visuals looked slick and very stylish in the film. It's crisp, clean, and the cinematography is simply fantastic. The film's looks reiterate the mood of the film as the film often uses darker tones and lenses for its visual flair. One scene I particularly liked, in terms of visuals, actually doesn't have anything to do with the plot of the film. It's at the very beginning of the film and it's our introduction to Lisbeth Salander. Her face is veiled by a hoodie and we watch as she walks down a lone subway station with the lights clashing with the darkness outside. That scene only lasts for a minute or two and means absolutely nothing to the plot, but it really captured my attention for some reason.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a very interesting thriller and makes for some good film-watching. It's not great, as the weaker of the main characters and the constant plot focus showcase, but it's still very good. I can only hope that the next two films will be just as good as this.



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