Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (2009)
Niels Arden Oplev

I always thought it would be so utterly cool to have photographic memory. The girl in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is
Lisbeth Salander, wonderfully played by Swedish TV star Noomi Rapace, and she's been blessed with this gift. But as it turns out, depending on what life's thrown at you or maybe stains of guilt in your past, photographic memory is a blessing in some ways and not so much in others. I never considered that this gift could be a thorn in the flesh when you'd rather try to bury some things in the past.

I really loved the film -- I can't wait to see it again, and I'd love to see it one more time on the big screen. It has quite a few little stories that run at the same time, but we follow one more thoroughly than the others. Then, suddenly when you think it's over, there's so much more -- because all the other little stories begin wrapping up, and they all wrap up quite nicely.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is essentially a thriller about a disgraced journalist (Michael Nyqvist, who you might remember as Rolf in Lukas Moodysson's Together), and a troubled young computer hacker (Rapace), who are teamed up investigating the disappearance of an industrialist's niece, a crime which took place decades ago.
I won't dig too deeply into this one other than to say it's a great story with wonderful chemistry between the leads, and the ending really leaves you wanting more.

It reminded me of Just Another Love Story, the thrilling Danish noir from 2007 that left me reeling on the edge of my seat. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn't quite leave you reeling at the end, because you've already been reeling before you get to the end, and then it takes its time resolving leftover questions in the background, turning it into such a satisfying experience.

The film is based on the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's international best seller, a phenomenon that has become one of the highest selling translated novels in the U.S. (2 million copies as of 2008). If you haven't read it and you're anywhere near a bookstore, you've seen it. You even see it on the book shelf at the train station.

The film is the first of the "Millennium" trilogy, all based on the novels, and I haven't looked forward to a following work this much in a long time. Those who know me know that I love the idea of a trilogy -- hard as it is to pull off -- even though I hate the idea of sequels. (Loathing consistency is also one of my film watching character defects.)

The Girl Who Played with Fire opens here in Chicago July 2. I will be away from Chicagoland for the holiday, but I'll be first in line the following week.

Kudos to The Music Box Theatre's Music Box Films, a young upstart distribution network aimed at independent and foreign films. I've attended their theatre for years; the distribution company they've put together is the perfect, logical extension of their obvious love of the art-house. As the art-house becomes more mainstream, as in productions like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it's nice to see the success of "the little movie house that could." I wish them continued success in all their future efforts.

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