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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’: A Captivating Adaptation of the Landmark Swedish Mystery-Thriller

Movie poster for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009) is the first adaptation of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s renowned novel of the same name—the book and the film both serving as the first third of his highly acclaimed “Millennium” trilogy (precluding “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest”). The film’s plot follows the efforts of Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), Stockholm-based publisher and burgeoning private detective, as he is hired by billionaire Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) to investigate the ambiguous fate of his beloved niece Harriet many years earlier.

Aided in his efforts by cyberpunk hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), Blomkvist becomes thoroughly immersed in the investigation over Harriet’s inexplicable disappearance from the family compound in the summer of 1966. Jointly laboring to conduct a complex probe of the vaunted Vanger family, Blomkvist and Salander painstakingly piece together an elaborate chronicle of the family’s dark past, as well as clues to a concurrent pattern of ritualistic murders throughout the greater region.

Directed by Swedish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev (“Dead Man Down”, “Mr. Robot”), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a dense and formidable excursion into the darker corners of the crime-thriller genre. Lengthy and truer to its source novel than David Fincher’s 2011 American remake, the original Swedish film benefits best from Larsson’s unique talents as a writer of captivating mystery along with Rapace’s vigorous depiction of a damaged soul bestowed with unique abilities and fierce determination. Bold, visceral and remarkably gripping, it’s a true landmark in 21st Century international cinema.


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