Monday, August 2, 2010

Now playing at home: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Rated R)

Stars: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Sven-Bertil Taube

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Genre: Mystery/Suspense Drama

(In Swedish with English subtitles)

Two strange bedfellows--middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist, (Michael Nyqvist) and a young computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) --team up to solve a forty year old mystery: The disappearance of a teenage girl, presumed murdered, from a gathering of greedy, self-serving family members, each of them now under suspicion. Adapted from the late Stieg Larsson's blockbuster novel, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a twisting and twisted tale of intrigue and suspense.

Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, (Sven-Bertil Taube) of the aforementioned clan, to delve into the disappearance of his neice, Harriet, which has haunted him lo these many years. Salander is drawn to Blomkvist by his well publicized (but questionable) conviction for libel. Lisbeth is 24--a pierced, tattooed, black leather clad, sulking enigma who works as a researcher for a private security firm.

We do know that Lisbeth's dark past includes confinement to a mental institution. She's now on probation for an unspecified crime that will be revealed near the end of the film. She isn't crazy about men, and if anything could serve to reinforce that particular prejudice, it's her probation officer--a brutal rapist who is the embodiment of institutional subjugation and cruelty the world over.

But then there is Blomkvist, and how interesting would a pair of coed sleuths be if they didn't develop the hots for each other? We follow their collaboration with fascination, as they navigate a maze of clues, red herrings, dead ends, mysterious Nazi connections, a serial killer on the loose, staring death in the face--and, of course, making some hot monkey love along the way!

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is gritty, graphic, and gorgeously filmed (in its images of the Swedish countryside) . It's not for those with tender sensibilities.

And Noomi Rapace is an actress to watch. That she was willing to get "down and dirty" for this role shows me that she is dedicated to her craft and willing to do whatever it takes to bring stark realism to a scene. But as her star rises, will she be like most actresses when they make it big--unwilling to revisit some of the darker places that got them there to begin with, just because they no longer have to? Hope not!

I'm now looking forward to the sequel: The Girl Who Played With Fire. It's the next installment of Steig Larsson's "Millenium" trilogy--with Rapace and Nyqvist reprising their roles as the intrepid investigators from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.