The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Some genres come and go with changing tastes while others endure.  Seemingly never out of favour are whodunits with their various guises bringing ghoulish delight to those enjoying solving assorted grisly crimes.  Making them last is their adaptability with any era as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo attests.  Based on the best-selling Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, this Swedish thriller effectively uses Switzerland’s glacial snowscapes.

Writing for the investigative magazine Millennium, Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) reels from a nasty libel case.  Salvation arrives when he is asked to assist Henrik Vanger, the head of a powerful family.  Tasked with exploring the mysterious disappearance of his treasured niece forty years ago, the list of suspects appears endless.  Helping him is young punk Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) a troubled but brilliant computer hacker.  Reaching into the dark past with skill, they discover a serial killer lurks amongst the upper echelons of Swiss society.

This entertaining mystery revels in its fountain of secrets.  Chief amongst these is Lisbeth’s murky background with her unorthodox sense of justice jarring against Mikael’s pragmatic approach.  This sense of conflict adds another intriguing layer to a complex tale refusing to let go.  Although uncomfortably brutal viewing at times, the story gains kudos for refusing to shy away from some heavy themes.  This harsh reality also extends to the psychology of our intrepid detectives who have their own demons to fight.  Almost every character seems damaged in some way, with their ability to solve a crime almost hindered by their fractured minds. 

Certainly there are some clichéd elements of the genre creeping in, although its mixture of suspense with commentary on the darker aspects of society keep things fresh.  Issues of rape, male dominance and the privilege of wealth bring a harder edge to the formula without seeming too contrived.  Worthy of note is the fantastic cinematography which captures the scope of the mystery.  Opening up the puzzle to cover a world-wide hunt, this makes a refreshing change from the enclosed feel of other thrillers. 

With two more movies already filmed, the trilogy arrives in fine style with ‘Tattoo’.  Grittier and focused on characters more than others, this Swedish film does the job in wanting to see the next instalment of this potentially interesting series.

Rating out of 10:  8

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