The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
Written by Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg, Stieg Larsson (novel)
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace
Getting a six month leave before a sentence for libel against a large corporation, a magazine reporter is commissioned by the owner of another conglomerate to investigate the disappearance of a niece who also used to watch the reporter as a kid. The woman responsible for vetting the reporter before he was hired also becomes involved in the investigation.
i started to watch this in moster's absence, but decided it was too good for him to miss out on. i enjoyed this greatly. i didn't know much about this so going into it i had no idea what it was going to be like. i thought from the way it was advertised it was a story of revenge, but apparently it's a murder mystery. really well told. i would recommend to anyone....unless you don't like to read subtitles...then you can go be a jerk by yourself, and never know what a great movie you missed out on. there were no hints as to the resolution of the mystery, and i can dig that. there was no way to guess who the culprit was before it was revealed to the characters. me likey-ed. that rarely happens and that should tell you something.
reminiscent of "the crimson rivers' which, i know, sounds like a movie about menstruation, but is, in fact, a great french murder mystery starring jean reno
This is the sort of movie where the 4 is more like a 4.25 or a 4.5. While it didn't leave me gasping it was very much worth the 150-minute runtime. Nothing felt out of place, and nothing fell or jumped off of the tapestry. Craft wins the day handily.
The real standout here is the writing. Based on a book and later re-imagined into some sort of Scandinavian mini series, this really held my interest. The two leads come from vastly different places to wind up in a similar boat and work together to find a real solution. There was no need for scenes or dialog dedicated to exposition, or maybe the entire movie was just one big piece of exposition. Going through to the secondary (and even some of the tertiary) characters, each presence or personality was drawn clearly and each had apparent motivations. I especially like how Lisbeth's backstory comes out slowly.
Writing alone can't realize single-scene characters, and the fully competent--but not ground-breaking--direction takes you most of the rest of the way there. Oplev was fully in line with what the movie needed to accomplish and shepherded each member of the cast to exactly the right place. This competence extends to the camera. Shots of the few action sequences are completed with seamless camera moves and the more-sedate majority of the film is not overdone for the sake of flourish. These elements are combined into a polished product by a skillful editor.
The actors bring us to the finish line. The two leads bring to their performances exactly what's required. That might sound like a dig, but this isn't the sort of movie where you want your actors to jump out at the camera. Coming from an obviously white collar place, Nyqvist gives us a Mikael who is reserved and pensive, while Rapace wears Lisbeth's emotions on her sleeve more often and when she has to hold back the difference in face and demeanor betrays her frustration perfectly. Their chemistry takes some time to develop, just like it would in real life and the end up making a truly believable team.
It's usually easy to sit on the couch and watch a murder mystery and second guess the characters and joke together to about our predictions long before they hit the screen. The flip side of this is that people never do the simplest things to get themselves out of situations. Neither of those conditions held true in this utterly satisfying film.