Friday, June 4, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- the movie

Last weekend I went to see the film version of Stieg Larsson's book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- which was both good and bad.

First, the good part --

It was entertaining.

That carries a lot of weight, these days. For a movie with a running time of 152 minutes, I was not looking at my watch, or wishing for it to end, or stirring in my seat.

Its two stars, Noomi Rapace (the eponymous girl) and Michael Nyqvist (a journalist investigating a decades old disappearance) are terrific. While there is a significant age gap between the two, they carry on a believable (and steamy) romance.

If anything carries the movie, it is these two.

That being said, the movie has some big problems.

1) The violence.

I'd like to think I'm not a squeamish person, but the graphic depictions of rape, murder and violence really did leave a foul taste in my mouth. It's a murder story, so I suppose it's necessary (and violence is one of those curious things in which the more realistically it's pulled off, the worse it makes the audience feel), but one should be prepared.

2) As a mystery, it's a failure.

There were too many red herrings. Too many digressions and diversions. And, when you get right down to it, too many unanswered questions. The movie begins with all sorts of suppostions - very few of them turn out to be true. And it doesn't take a genius to see early on that this is going to be the case.

A couple of weeks ago, I reread Scott Turow's legal mystery Presumed Innocent (which was also a seriously underrated movie) and the thing that amazed me was how all the accumulated clues and evidence made sense by the end. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can (and did) have any number of possible villains by the end.

3) It might have been the most anti-male film I've ever seen.

Perhaps that wasn't it's aim. And, I agree, the Michael Nyqvist character was not anti-male. However, there were so many depraved and evil men, that it's difficult to walk out of that movie not wanting to castrate each and every creature on the planet with a y-chromosome.