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Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Flicks: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A weekly review of a book to movie adaptation.


The Millennium Trilogy by late Swedish author Steig Larsson proved to be a world-wide phenomenon. With the launch of the first novel in the international bestselling trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, readers fell in love with the misfit protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, and the novel's gritty, dark content. 

A Swedish film adaptation soon followed, and it was only a matter of time before American filmmaker David Fincher set out to leave his mark on the novel. Fincher, who directed the dark hits Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac, etc., was a perfect match for the difficult subject matter that the novel contained. In the film, Rooney Mara brings a vulnerable side to the dark character, Salander. 

The film follows recently disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, played here by Daniel Craig, as he attempts to rebuild his life. He is called upon by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his niece, Harriet, years ago. As Blomkvist begins to investigate, he discovers the gloomy past and unfortunate events that seem to have plagued the Vanger family. Essentially a locked room mystery, Blomkvist knows that Harriet's killer had to be a member of the family, as they were the only people on the family's island on that day. 

This could have been a straight forward thriller, but the addition of the fascinating Lisbeth Salander elevates the story to another level. Salander is a ward of the state, who has a knack for anything technology related. On the outside, she appears as a kind of goth punk outcast, but her hacking skills have afforded her a comfortable career as an investigator. It is these skills that lead her to assist Blomkvist in his investigation.

The content of both the film and the novel is extremely dark and often uncomfortably graphic. There are scenes of great violence, including rape, and detailed portrayals of torture. Despite these disturbing moments, there is a heart to both Blomkvist and Salander that makes this a compulsively watchable movie. The adaptation stays true to the spirit of the novel while still standing alone as a commendable piece of filmmaking. This a a thrilling adult movie that brings the fantastic novel to life.

Have you read the novel or seen the movie? If so, what did you think of it? What book adaptations would you like to see as a future Friday Flicks post?

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