There’s enough story for three really good movies in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, maybe even four. The film opens with two of them, a good, old fashioned journalism movie, and then the very serious experiences of Noomi Rapace. There’s some crossover, but it’s all contrived.
Then the film blossoms and has two more plots, one feeding into the other. First of these new plots is practically a Raymond Chandler story of a detective–sorry, investigative reporter (played by Michael Nyqvist)–investigating an old crime. The second plot is a serial killer one.
The tone changes throughout, with Rapace’s harrowing experiences being extremely disquieting, while the journalism thread is light and airy and the old crime investigation somewhat light too. There’s Sven-Bertil Taube as this old man trying to discover the truth. It’s light. Taube’s lovable.
The threads fail to synthesize, maybe because protagonist Nyqvist doesn’t have a character. Rapace’s character’s backstory is hidden (to have dramatic payoff later), but it’s obvious she has one. Nyqvist gets a couple mentions, but there’s nothing to the character.
Director Oplev is okay. He doesn’t compose particularly well, but he never sells Rapace’s character short. Her storyline, no matter how silly, is always handled with great care. Even when it’s an obvious or predictable scene.
Dragon Tattoo is definitely captivating. The two mysteries are compelling–the newspaper story ends terribly, in an inept montage–and Rapace’s story is devastating.
But Dragon Tattoo‘s a melodrama. Its entire purpose is to be devastating.
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev; screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; director of photography, Eric Kress; edited by Anne Østerud; music by Jacob Groth; production designer, Niels Sejer; produced by Søren Stærmose; released by Nordisk Film.
Starring Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Sven-Bertil Taube (Henrik Vanger), Peter Haber (Martin Vanger), Peter Andersson (Nils Bjurman), Marika Lagercrantz (Cecilia Vanger), Ingvar Hirdwall (Dirch Frode), Björn Granath (Gustav Morell), Ewa Fröling (Harriet Vanger), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (Dragan Armanskij), Annika Hallin (Annika Giannini), Sofia Ledarp (Malin Eriksson), Gunnel Lindblom (Isabella Vanger), Gösta Bredefeldt (Harald Vanger), Stefan Sauk (Hans-Erik Wennerström), Jacob Ericksson (Christer Malm) and Tomas Köhler (‘Plague’).