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GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE

SYNOPSIS:
After a provincial fair in Sweden, 16-year old Harriet Vanger (Ewa Froling) disappears without a trace on September 29 1966. Nearly forty years later, investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist), is contacted by her uncle, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), who wants him to try and find out what happened to Harriet. But even as Blomqvist searches for clues into the mystery, a young hacker, Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) is secretly searching through his own life - even hacking into his laptop and following his search. The wealthy Vanger family becomes the subject of Blomqvist's probing and extraordinary secrets lead him and Lisbeth on a dangerous and surprising journey.

Review by Louise Keller:
Beyond its intriguing title, this is a riveting film whose elements make it so much more than just a thriller, a missing person drama, a murder mystery, a romance and a film about secrets. Beyond the actual story elements, it is the searing presence of its two morally opposed central characters who inexplicably find each other and uniquely connect that captures our imagination. As It Is In Heaven's Michael Nyqvist is perfectly cast as the idealistic investigative journalist with no secrets, while Noomi Rapace is a sensation as the computer-hacking girl with the tattoo, body piercing and dark past. Nothing is as it seems; slowly the truth is revealed as the layers of camouflage are stripped away.

Based on Stieg Larsson's first novel (Men Who Hate Women) from his best selling Millennium Trilogy, Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev (with top screenwriters Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg) collaborate to deliver an engrossing reality. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this gripping tale with umpteen elements as the film's dramatic arc builds in tension like a resounding musical crescendo.

When we meet Nyqvist's Mikael Blomkvist, he is accepting of his fate when wrongly convicted in a libel case. Not so Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth Salander, a Goth-looking 24 year old with a sleazy probation officer, who makes her own rules. The remote island location (connected to the mainland only by a bridge) is visually stunning, wearing her snowy, icy winter dress and the privileged family 'capable of anything' fascinate as we (and Mikael) find ourselves becoming more and more obsessed.

There are framed dried flowers, black and white photographs, Nazi brothers, a diary with numbers and names that do not match, biblical references, religious rituals, old fashioned business practices, sexual perversions and horrors of which we eventually become aware. Pay attention: clues and red herrings are tantalisingly delivered throughout, and beyond the central mystery, there is plenty more we want to learn about the girl who is as handy with a tattoo needle as she is a computer network. The resolutions are beautifully handled; nothing is overdone and we're allowed the gift of subtlety. It's long but this is a film that is as permanent as any tattoo.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Stieg Larsson's rich and textured murder thriller is powerfully adapted for the screen and directed with steely resolve by Neils Arden Oplev. This is a murder mystery that grows darker by the scene, driven by the notion that everybody has secrets - a phrase that assumes ominous meaning in the last act. And what a story; told with a sense of restraint but nevertheless shocking, it's revealed in a complex set of present day and flashback scenes, building a jigsaw that rivets our attention.

Michael Nyqvist is perfectly cast as the career journalist we meet on the eve of him losing a libel case brought by a business big shot. Before he serves his 3 month jail term though, he gets a call from Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) with a handsome and intriguing offer to see what he can discover about Henrik's niece, missing for 40 years, to while away the pre-jail months.

The gradual expansion of the story background is what makes the film so rich - and so long. But to their credit, the filmmakers maintain tension throughout, even when we think it must be over. There is something more ...

The subplot about the businessman who sues Blomqvist becomes a useful and entertaining bookend to the story, told with great economy like a frame around the more detailed central plot.

All the cast (featuring some of Sweden's most notable actors) are excellent, notably Noomi Rapace, the young woman with her own secrets, secrets we learn piecemeal fashion but with considerable oomph. The mystery holds our interest, surprise sex scenes grab our attention and the well judged tone is superbly maintained from start to finish.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE

MICHAEL NYQVIST INTERVIEW

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE (MA)
(Sweden/Denmark/Germany, 2009)

Män som hatar kvinnor

CAST: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Peter Haber, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Andersson, Ingvar Hirdwall, Marika Lagercrantz, Bjorn Granath, Ewa Froling

PRODUCER: Søren Stærmose

DIRECTOR: Neils Arden Oplev

SCRIPT: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg (novel by Stieg Larsson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jens Fischer, Eric Kress

EDITOR: Anne Østerud

MUSIC: Jacob Groth

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Niels Sejer

RUNNING TIME: 152 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 18, 2010







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