AKA: Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women)
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Peter Andersson, Ewa Fröling
Country: Sweden, Scandinavian Cinema
Language: Swedish (English subtitles)
Genres: Detective/Mystery, Old-Young, Nazism, Rape/Sexual Violence against Men, Rape/Sexual Violence against Women, Serial Killers, Incest, Domestic Abuse, Siblings-Family
Plot – Spoilers:
Mikael Blomkvist runs a magazine that he believes is the final hope for journalistic integrity in Sweden. He’s just had a setback though, having lost a libel case against a shady tycoon and faces upcoming jail time. Lisbeth Salander is a young hacker with goth sensibilities hired by a security firm at the behest of a powerful Swedish patriarch, Henrik Vanger, to study Blomkvist’s credentials and integrity. Based on her reports, Blomkvist is hired privately by Henrik to investigate the 40 year old case of his niece Hariett Vanger who mysteriously disappeared in 1966.
Lisbeth meanwhile runs into problems of her own when she’s appointed a new legal guardian who turns out to be a rapist and sadist. Having studied Blomkvist up close and being convinced of his sincerity, she decides to help with his case and joins him at the Vanger property which is home to derelict and damaged family members who’ve known power and money too long. The investigations reveal way more than Blomkvist and Lisbeth appear capable of handling and things soon spiral out of control.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the Millennium trilogy by Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson who had sought legal protection to hide aspects of his personal life due to the sensitive nature of his work. The sad irony is Larsson never lived to see the success of his literary works and the movies based on them, because he passed away in 2004 🙁
1. Lisbeth’s interactions with her new legal guardian Bjurman, played by Peter Andersson: Andersson is quite brilliant as the ageing guardian with a power he appears to have honed dealing with misfits whom neither society nor the law give a toss about. In many ways he is similar to Martin Vanger who also went after prostitutes, immigrants and others on the edge of the light because it made his crimes so much easier to conceal. Bjumran, an ageing man, appears turned on by Lisbeth’s fashion outlook which is way different from anything someone like him would have been exposed to in his younger days.
In the scene where she walks into his apartment (the night he rapes her), at first he appears touched and vulnerable to her strange charm. Inevitably though, these feelings soon turn sadistic when he senses she is not reciprocal.
2. Harriet’s memory of the day she murdered her father: Shown in a flashbacky tone, the scene of her stumbling out of the cabin bloody mouthed and frightened while her father staggers drunkenly behind her captures quite well her terror and miserable life at the time.
3. When the old Harriet finally meets Henrik and breaks down hugging him, she sobs for forgiveness. Ewa Fröling does a great job in her short role here and conveys an interesting psychological point – she last saw her favorite uncle Henrik when she was a teenager. When you’ve not grown up in front of someone you like and meet them after such a long time, it’s almost like she briefly goes back to being a teen seeking comfort in the one person in her family she trusted. Ewa conveys this through her voice which sounds almost childlike as she breaks down.