Published Apr 15, 2010To understand The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, one should note that the original title of Stieg Larsson's bestselling Swedish novel on which it's based is Men Who Hate Women. Sweden is a social democracy, which, according to Larsson, means that it presents the illusion of a welfare state while rightwing thinkers creatively manipulate the system greedily for their capitalist agenda. And the only things rightwing thinkers hate more than sharing are women that refuse subordination and minorities that demand equality.
To provide context, the film opens with Mikael (Michael Nyqvist), a journalist noted as being one of the last working idealists in the field, being charged with libel after revealing rings of corruption in high places. With six months of freedom before serving his sentence, Mikael is hired by Henrik (Sven-Bertil Taube), an elderly billionaire, to locate his long lost love, a young woman gone missing 40 years prior.
Now, before hiring Mikael, a background check is performed, which is where Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), the titular "girl," comes in. Covered with piercings and tattoos, radiating a "don't fuck with me" attitude, she is an unconventional corporate employee, but has an affinity for investigation and computer hacking that the boys envy.
More interesting than the story itself, for reasons beyond the mystery of her character, the bisexual borderline sociopath, played with steely determination by Rapace, engages in Mikael's investigation, when not fighting back against the many men that attack and rape her ― a trajectory central to the aforementioned message.
Playing as a pulp mystery with social purpose (think The Da Vinci Code if Audrey Tautou tied up Tom Hanks and shoved a dildo up his ass), an abundance of clues unfold involving Nazis, incest and impersonation, giving a trashy, thoroughly engaging veneer to a fantastical feminist parable.
Rumour has it that David Fincher is circling an American remake of this mostly Americanized film, which is understandable on a technical front, but thematically, this material would be far more suited to Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion or maybe even Sam Mendes. (Alliance)