As Hollywood is abuzz with a potential David Flincher remake/English-language adaptation (And we begin to wonder, “Who will be his ‘girl’?”), U.S. audiences in select markets will get a chance to see the “original” (Swedish) film version of Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” directed by Niels Arden Oplev. In the film, the eponymous bad-ass hacker who dresses in punk-bondage garb, a Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), follows an investigative journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), who has fallen upon hard times. In the course of her own stalking of Blomkvist, Salander becomes intrigued by the story he is working on, and through the course of the film Blomkvist and Salander work together to unearth a trove of the wealthy Vanger family’s secrets. The film, the Scandinavian film industry’s biggest success in film history, has already caught the eyes of many U.S. critics.
In his 3.5/4 star review in Rolling Stone, Peter Travers writes, “This dynamite thriller shivers with suspense. So if you ignore ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’…because it’s in Swedish with English subtitles, you probably deserve the remake Hollywood will surely screw up.” Putting the film into the “Older guy, hot babe (feminist version)” category, Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir glows about the film, calling it “a curious and intermittently compelling hybrid of styles and ingredients. At times it feels like a slick Euro-thriller with a sexy, stylish heroine…It’s also a serial-killer procedural and a moody neo-noir, whose atmosphere, pacing and photography sometimes suggest the Scandinavian art-film tradition.”
Though many circles are greatly excited just to see the bestseller adapted, Rapace is getting accolades for her innovative ownership of her role. Says The LA Times Brand X’s Andy Klein, “The slightest slip-up in casting her would have doomed the movies to mediocrity. Rapace — while not mapping exactly to the book’s physical descriptions — owns the role so thoroughly that one can only hope the role doesn’t end up owning her and limiting her opportunities.”
Roger Ebert joins the chorus of love for Rapace and her character: “‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is a compelling thriller to begin with, but it adds the rare quality of having a heroine more fascinating than the story…Lisbeth is as compelling as any movie character in recent memory.” He concludes his review with a most respectable and respectful compliment, “This is not a deep psychological study. But it’s a sober, grown-up film. It has action, but not the hyperkinetic activity that passes for action in too many American movies. It has sex, but not eroticism. Its male lead is brave and capable, but not macho. Its female lead is sexy in the abstract, perhaps, but not seductive or alluring. This is a movie about characters who have more important things to do than be characters in an action thriller.”
In a sometimes-impressed take on the film from The Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips, he ends with a dig at the film as a genre piece, “I’ve sort of had it with this stuff, whether it’s American or Swedish. Every five minutes on network TV, some stoic, heartsick crime-fighter holds up another grotesque autopsy photo; every 10 minutes at the multiplex, we settle in for one more load of appalled, appalling evidence of what men who hate women do for their amusement. And for ours.”