Got my hands on a free pass for this film, which is the right price for me, if not always the best motivation for seeing a movie (That is, after all, how I ended up seeing Jerry Springer’s Ringmaster in the theater). Having, to be honest, not much interest in seeing this, I must say; I came, I saw, I was entertained. For the most part.
Though highly dissimilar in tone and form, this seems to be the new Twilight; The franchise that everyone’s talking about. People are reading the books, people want to see the movies. . . Shit, there’s already an American remake/adaptation in the works. And, much like that previous glowing vampire cash cow, I don’t really get the obsession. I understand why people like it, sure, but what really distinguishes this from The Cat Who series or Monk? You’ve got a standard, Sherlock Holmes/Auguste Dupin detective character, with a little quirk added (Goth) and a tragic backstory (Pyro, Raped by father). Nothing too original. Granted, the Sweden setting adds a slightly different flavor to it, but I kind of doubt that’s what’s drawing American audiences to it.
And again, I’m not “hating”, in the parlance. The actors were all good, particularly the two leads. The direction was perfectly adequate, and sped along at a brisk-but-not-too-fast pace. But, it is about a half hour to 45 minutes too long. What happens in this extra, unnecessary time? Well, there are some redundant, repetitive scenes. And a great deal of time spent on incidental rape.
“What’s that?!”, you say? Yes, the rape scenes that have absolutely nothing to do with the main narrative of the film. Dragon Tattoo is more rape obsessed than any given season of Veronica Mars, and, not being able to fit any more rape into the main story, finds a way to shoehorn a little extraneous rape in the side. The side of a movie that’s almost two and a half hours long (Doing a little research, I found out that there’s a three hour long Swedish extended cut. And that the original, Swedish title of the book is Men Who Hate Women. Appropriate!).
No matter how dark and puffed up a mystery/thriller may be, at their heart they’re really light entertainment. At least, they should be. My sister was much more the mystery fan than I, growing up, so I’m not the expert. But the general impression that I got is that these books contained very little detective work. Generally, there’s a lot of falling ass backwards into clues, a plot being propelled by convenient coincidences, and a deus ex machina at the end. And I’m not saying this as an insult; The conventions are what people love about the genre. My point is simply this; We’re not delving into the complexities of the human condition, here. The suspects are gathered in a room, Hercule Poirot points his finger at Professor Plum, end of story. To include an extended sequence involving the most heinous human act possible, that isn’t even a part of the main plot, serves. . . What purpose, exactly?
It isn’t part of Lisbeth’s “origin” story; She is the way she is before the “incident”. I guess it gives you insight into her character, though not necessarily in the most positive way. She lets the rapist go free, possibly to abuse someone else in the future, for. . . money? Also, how would that videotape stand up in court? If you go to someone’s house with the expectation, hope even, of getting raped, is it really rape? These are some potentially deep questions, and wholly inappropriate and unexamined in this fluff film. Maybe there’s a little more explanation in the book, but I doubt it.
If you decided to ignore my “Semi-Major Spoilers” warning, and are worried that I’ve spoiled the movie for you, worry no more. Again, nothing that I’ve been talking about has to do with the main narrative of the film.
So, other than that whole mess, this could have been the pilot for a pretty fun, Castle-esqe detective tv series. As it stands, it’s an entertaining film that, depending on your love of mystery movies and foreign cinema, you could do with or without seeing in the theater.