THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009)
|Moral? Do not fuck with a chick with nose rings.|
Alright. I'll start off with the confession that I haven't read the book. Because books are for losers and don't have enough car chases in them. But then I saw the trailer. You know. The trailer. The trailer which put me into spasms of motherfucking awesome, and just put my girlfriend into spasms of epilepsy (and then gave me the silent treatment for putting her through that). Anyway, I figured if I'm going to be wetting myself over the American trailer, I might as well do the good thing and see the Swedish movie first. And let me tell you--holyfuckingawesome. I know movie critics have this moral code called "if everybody loves it and it isn't over thirty years old, it must be shit". And yes, the movie and the books got a shit ton of hoopla. But there's a very rare occasion when the movie that everyone considers badass really is that badass. This is one of those movies.
|Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth.|
The plot is simple enough. Reporter Mikael Blomkvist (played conveniently by Michael Nyqvist, who apparently only stars in movies with extraordinarily vague titles...ah, Svedens) is only months away from getting locked away at Stockholm and decides to use the spare time he has left to take on another case. He's hired by a sweet old (and slightly insane) grandfatherly type, Henrik Vanger, who is obsessed with the disappearance of his niece, Harriet, who went missing some 40 years ago. Mikael hops on board to take on the assignment, slowly picking through clues, sifting through evidence. He's your standard, older man sleuth, who works his way though boxes upon boxes of evidence bundled up in front of a fireplace. You can't help but find him completely endearing, and noble in a sort of old fashioned gentleman detective way.
On the flip side, we have Lisbeth Salander, played by the extraordinarily talented and just plain sexy Noomi Rapace. Would that I could explain all the ways Lisbeth is a fucking badass. She's a talented computer hacker, who gets herself involved in the case by hacking into Mikael's computer. She's also everything I could ask for in a female heroine. She puts up a hell of a good fight against the boys, she doesn't censor herself for anyone, and she believes revenge is a dish best served hog-tied and sodomized. But best of all? She doesn't have all of that "I'm a woman, therefore I'm the emotional one" in this movie. Instead, she closes off completely, to everyone, no exceptions. And she gets herself into some fucked up tight spots, but she never plays the victim. She carries her demons on her back and wears them well. She doesn't need the male lead to help her with the load, thank you very much. But then again, I might just love her so much because she's half-dyke.
|Image from moviesmedia.ign.com.|
About Lisabeth and Mikael. I'll say this. I had a problem with them. Which is weird, because I spent the entire first half of the movie waiting for them to finally bump into each other. And I was there with these characters through it all. From Mikael's careful mental avoidance of his prison sentence, to Lisabeth's (fucking intense) rape. I was there, I was with them. I was loving every second of it. And then they started to share the screen, and something shifted. Mikael, for one, turned into a love sick puppy dog. And I get it. I'd probably do the same, and it makes sense for his character. But still. That previous gentleman nobility about him kind of went out the window. So I lost a good chunk of respect for him.
But there was something stilted about their relationship in general. The characters were acting just as I would expect them to--he was falling for her and she wasn't really giving him the time of day--but somehow their chemistry just wasn't doing it for me. It wasn't their acting, and it wasn't the writing, because both were spot on. It was just something uncomfortable in the relationship period. Maybe it was because I'd hoped they would have some sort of father-daughter bond instead of going the easy way out with a love interest. Maybe it was just that Mikael does awkward as hell sex scenes. Whatever it was, it rubbed me the wrong way, and apparently rubbed Lisbeth the wrong way, who couldn't seem to wait to step out of every scene she was in with him. And if this had been one, doomed, awkward relationship in the course of both their lives, I would've been fine with that. They both got what they wanted--he got to drive a car for the first time since his divorce, and she got her good-man lovin'. So they grew as characters and could move on, and Lisbeth could be the new James Bond and have a Bond Boy (or Girl) in every movie. Except somehow I get the feeling Mikael isn't leaving us for a good while. Let's just hope he works on his sex face.
|I think we all know who wears the pants in this pair.|
Complaints about their relationship aside, it was a really fucking good film. It was paced well (even though the slowish beginning did pick up a little too fast for me towards the end), it had some painfully realistic and intense senses, and it was a movie that wasn't afraid to go there. Really, I thought since it was so popular among soccer moms it was going to be fluffier than this, but it had some scenes that spun out into dark, unnerving places. Which makes sense when you realize the original Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women. Especially since...this movie had nothing to do with a dragon tattoo. Except that she had it. Whoop-de-fucking-do. Might as well call it The Girl With The Occasional Hangnail.
While watching the film, I couldn't help but wonder the eternal question: "How the fuck is Hollywood going to pull this one off?" My prediction is that, if its anything like the trailers (which, experience has told me, it probably isn't, but I'll keep hoping!), it'll probably be epic. I don't doubt they'll cut out a good portion of the easy, slow pace in the beginning (because who needs subtle tension building, really?), but they may make up for it with a more cohesive relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth (let's face it, if there's one thing Americans are good at, it's contrived romantic sub-plots). Daniel Craig I happen to be a big fan of, so I have some hope there. Rooney Mara may look cool punked-out and she has impressed me before, but I know it's impossible to beat Noomi Rapace's complete and utter badassitry, so I won't even hold that expectation against her. I love Led Zeppelin like my unborn fetus. So the fact that I give Trent Reznor's version of The Immigrant Song the thumbs up is a major compliment. All in all? I'm still looking forward to feeling bad, come Christmastime.