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GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST, THE

SYNOPSIS:
After taking a bullet to the head, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is under close supervision in hospital and is set to face trial for attempted murder - if and when she recovers. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander hopes to prove her innocence. In doing this she is up against powerful enemies - and her own past.

Review by Louise Keller:
If like me, you were seduced by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the first film in the series (based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling novels), you will be keen to see this final chapter when all the complex ends to the story are finalised. That's not to say the film is without its flaws. At 142 minutes, it's long with some confusion, but the luminous presence of its star Noomi Rapace makes it well worth the journey.

The story picks up after Lisbeth has been shot and is in critical shape at a hospital in Sweden. For those who have not seen the previous two films, the key characters are re-established, although it should be said that the film will resonate best with those who have invested in the story to date. It canvasses a broad range of subjects including defection, corrupt government institutions, rape, pornography, clandestine groups and sordid secrets, which are all eventually revealed.

Michael Nyqvist, as journalist Mikael Blomkvist who has taken a key interest in Lisbeth's story with its Greek tragedy elements, grounds the film, although he is relatively overshadowed by the diminutive Rapace whose performance is heightened by its minimalism. I enjoyed Lisbeth's relationship with her sympathetic doctor (Aksel Morisse) and the tension builds nicely in the lead up to the critical trial in Stockholm when the despicable psychiatrist Dr Teleborian (Anders Ahlbom) with plenty to answer for gets his comeuppance.

For her striking court appearance, Lisbeth wears a black Mohawk, black leather, silver studs and chains and lashings of mascara. We notice her. Two other women also leave their mark, albeit in a more subtle way: the lovely Lena Endre as Mikael's colleague and occasional lover Erika and Annika Hallin as his pregnant lawyer sister. Micke Spreitz as Lisbeth's gigantic blonde half-brother who can feel no pain has an ominous presence, as do the elderly members of the secret organisation who are either limping heavily or have serious medical conditions.

For some, the final scene may not satisfy, although like the key relationships within the film, it boasts an uncertainty and ambiguity which accentuates their fluid nature.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The failure of the various Swedish authorities to protect since her childhood their vulnerable citizen Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has been the editorial backbone of Stieg Larson's trilogy of novels on which the movies are based. This is the final chapter, in which the guilty are tracked down and brought to justice - but it's complicated.

The plot requires the film to be a thriller and then a courtroom drama as we follow Lisbeth's fateful journey. The courtroom scenes may baffle some viewers, but the setting accurately reflects the Swedish system in which (for such trials) there is no jury.

You don't need to have seen the first two films to get the gist of it, but it does help for a deeper understanding of the characters and a more complete view of the world that the filmmakers have created.

Not having read the books (not for lack of interest but lack of time) I can't say how the trilogy is completed on film, but as a film, I can say it works very well. Director Daniel Alfredson maintains tension almost faultlessly throughout the lengthy running time and the performances are uniformly excellent, as in the previous two films. Noomi Rapace is a striking Lisbeth with deep wounds suffered over many years that determine her adult personality. She isn't like an 'ordinary' person and we can understand why.

Michael Nykvist retains the perseverance and loyalty that make his Mikael Blomkvist so markedly different to most of the people Lisbeth has come across, and Lena Endre is again wonderful as Mikael's business partner at Millennium, the publication which carries out the investigation that blows the lid off a secret Government-based group that is a small, hidden but deadly cancer on Swedish society.

Of course, the bad guys have to be villainous without caricature, and in this story most of the men in positions of power are elderly or already dying. It's a notable element and one that gives us food for thought. The story is told with strategic editing and a thrilling score, while the costumes, sets and locations are naturalistic and efficient.

It's a story with something to say and a powerful way of saying it. Even enlightened democracies such as Sweden are vulnerable to the insidious influence of those who have dark agendas. It's a cautionary tale that feeds directly into today's consciousness of and interest in official transparency, as underlined by the avalanche of leaked documents via Wikileaks.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST, THE (MA)
(Sweden, 2009)

Luftslottet som sprängdes

CAST: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, Jacob Ericksson, Sofia Ledarp

PRODUCER: Storen Staermose

DIRECTOR: Daniel Alfredson

SCRIPT: Ulf Ryberg (novel by Stieg Larsson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Mokrosinski

EDITOR: Hakan Karlsson

MUSIC: Jacob Groth

RUNNING TIME: 142 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 3, 2011







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