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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

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Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 152 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is surely going to usurp Ikea, meatballs and Ulrika Jonsson as the things you think of when Sweden comes up in conversation. Niels Arden Oplev has pulled off a perfectly constructed crime thriller and a hugely satisfying watch which is head and shoulders above anything in the genre since The Silence of the Lambs.

This Swedish thriller is based on a bestselling book (which I haven’t seen but it doesn’t matter as this is a film review) by Stieg Larsson. Wrongfully disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) is hired by businessman Henrik Vagner (Taube) to investigate the forty year old mystery of his niece Harriet’s (Fröling) disappearance. He is joined by Lisbeth (Rapace), a computer hacker who was originally hired to research Vagner’s credentials but now is sympathetic to Mikael’s investigations. Using Harriet’s diaries and photo evidence these two get stuck into the messy family politics of the Vagner family and uncover some menacing histories and uncomfortable truths along the way as they are threatened by mysterious forces.

The unconventional crime fighting duo are excellent. Lisbeth is described as ‘a little odd’ at the beginning and it’s easy to see why but her Gothic appearance and icy demeanour aren’t the butts of physical jokes, rather throughout the film it is gradually explained how she got this way but without revealing all in a cheesy confessional and still keeping some details in reserve. Some of her scenes are hard to watch but the graphic sexual violence always seems necessary. Mikael is the straight man and at times he is a passenger along for the ride but he ably plays the anchor to Lisbeth’s storm. There are a number of credible suspects so the plot twists are always generally surprising and, more often than not, suitably disturbing. The characterisation is excellent thanks to spot-on acting and sophisticated writing.

The storytelling is admirably patient and consists of different character arcs and storylines that come together perfectly. When the rollercoaster ride seems to have been tied up, it keeps unravelling, as the marathon 152 minute runtime flies by. This all results in a hugely rewarding watch.

It's Got: Perfect characterisation, patient storytelling, a fitting mystery.

It Needs: To be seen. Now. Go on.


Measured storytelling, comprehensive characterisation and a number of hard-to-spot plot twists, should make this perfectly crafted crime thriller Sweden’s best export since Ikea.