2009 // Sweden // Niels Arden Oplev // May 1, 2010 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac)
B- - The film adaptation of the late Stieg Larsson's phenomenally popular novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is a nearly flawless Swedish replica of a lurid Hollywood thriller. Whether that statement represents high praise or a backhand compliment depends on one's regard for lurid Hollywood thrillers, but director Niels Arden Oplev has created, at minimum, a fierce little whodunit that is unwavering in its crackling regard for its heroine. That would be Lisbeth Salander, a misfit hacker with anemic social skills and an eidetic memory, embodied with spooky precision by Noomi Rapace. Oddly alluring and as tightly wound as a feral cat, Rapace is far more compelling than Michael Nyqvist's doughy journalist or the film's convoluted story of a vanished teen. Oplev, to his credit, preserves the novel's righteous anger at misogynistic violence, and also its flair for lending thrilling significance to the tiniest of clues. However, the film's gloomy aesthetic and faux-provocative shocks don't conceal its fundamentally disposable nature. Salander may add some texture to the ranks of fictional female sleuths, but Girl is still just crime, peril, and conspiracy recast as entertainment, a movie-of-the-week seen through a Scandinavian, post-Thomas Harris lens.