The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

July 2, 2010 - Secrets that have stood for 40 years are uncovered in this outstanding Swedish film version of a Stieg Larsson novel titled Men Who Hate Women. It's the first book of Larsson's Millennium trilogy, published after his death in 2004. The actors are Swedish; the dialogue is Swedish; the subtitles are English.

The movie opens with the libel conviction of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). He worked for a magazine called Millennium and published an exposé that accused a business tycoon of illegal dealings. Blomkvist is sentenced to six months in prison but he has six months of freedom before he must report.

During the trial, elderly shipping magnate Henrik Vanger hired a security firm to check out Blomkvist. Upon finding him on the up and up, Vanger invites Blomkvist to the island that serves as the family homestead and asks him to look into the disappearance of his favorite niece, Harriet, 40 years ago. Harriet was only 16 at the time and Vanger suspects that someone in the family killed her.

Blomkvist takes the job and moves into a cottage on the island. One day, he receives an email about a vital clue from someone who has clearly been hacking into his computer. The email address leads Blomkvist to Lisbeth Salander (the excellent Noomi Rapace), an emotionally-damaged punk computer hacker who works for the security firm that Vanger hired to check out Blomkvist. It seems she continued to track him after she filed her report.

Blomkvist recognizes Salander's brilliance and convinces her to go back to the island with him so they can continue the investigation together. As their personal relationship develops, so does a picture of one mightily messed up family.

Overall review: **** After seeing this film, I can't wait to see the next two in the series. The characters are fascinating. Despite their many differences, Blomkvist and Salander complement each other and make a good team. The film has some very disturbing scenes involving rape and torture, but they're central to the story and are not exploited. Be prepared for them and be prepared to sit for awhile because the film runs about 2:30. In my opinion, it's time well spent.