The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I’d hoped to watch The Spy Who Came In From the Cold as this week’s movie, but I still had about an hour to go on the audiobook and I wanted to wait till I was done. So I looked into Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Bourne Identity, and even Die Hard as substitutes, but none of them were available to me for free, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original Swedish version) was. I’m not sure any of those would have been better, but I wasn’t terribly impressed.

The cinematography was quite nice, and I enjoyed the fact that Lis Salander is reasonably unconventional as heroines go. The parts of the movie I enjoyed most involved her kicking ass, and the ones I found most gripping and affecting were the ones in which she was agonized for various reasons. I found Mikael Blomqvist a much less compelling protagonist, in part because he’s played by a rather unappealing actor and in part because his connection to the plot, though they’ve tried to make it personal and relate it to his childhood, is tissue-thin and emotionally uninvolving.

The plot itself was the worst part for me, a baroque serial-killer / family secret story that seemed overly elaborate and unlikely even by the standards of this sort of film. I almost laughed out loud when I saw the critical photo showing the killer wearing the identifying casual blue sweater in the midst of a bunch of men in suits, and had no idea how to get interested in a scenario with somewhere around forty possible suspects with no motivation in sight. I was confused by the largely irrelevant corporate scandal thread that bookends the film, and never got a clear grasp of the relationships most of the characters bore to one another.

Then there’s the rape angle toward the beginning, which to the film’s credit is generally directed so as to be horrifying rather than exploitative, but which can’t help feeling a little gratuitous in the grand scheme. It also complicates Salander’s out-of-nowhere physical (but not especially emotional) affair with Blomqvist, which I found spectacularly difficult to swallow let alone stomach, in light of all the other men in her life. I couldn’t help feeling as though Blomqvist was more of an authorial stand-in than an actual character, and that Salander’s initiation of sex with him was more wishful fantasy than anything well-thought-out.

Still, I’ve seen worse movies, and I wouldn’t refuse to watch the sequel. Just not anytime soon.

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