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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the best novel adaptations I've seen in a very long time. While I am not familiar with much Swedish cinema, the casting was incredible. Both of the leads, Lisbeth and Mikael Blomkvist worked- both singularly and in scenes together. Neither overpowered the other on screen, even though there was that potential. Visually, it was an incredibly appealing movie as well. There is talk about trying to redo this movie for a more American audience with Daniel Craig as Blomkvist. Unfortunately, I believe, there is no way to take this movie out of Sweden. The landscape is as much cast member as the actors and is almost as critical of a component as the director or the cinematographer.

Many people are simply going to skip over this gem of the movie for several reasons. First: subtitles. Yes, they use subtitles instead of dubbing. I believe this does not detract from the movie and that dubbing would have. Noomi Rapace, Lisbeth, has such a soft spoken demeanor that to have dub over that would definitely have lost something in translation. Her soft spokeness actually plays against her troubled life which is briefly touched upon during the film. And Michael Nyqvist has a subtlety about his portrayal of the disgraced journalist that can only be described as nuanced. Second thing that might cause people to skip over this movie are three very powerful scenes of rape and revenge. If those images are triggers for you, I recommend that you have a finger on the skip button and ready. Neither of the three scenes just suddenly jumps out and attacks the viewer, as they all start slowly- but the cutaways and lighting give a certain gritty reality to them – that even I had to turn away for a moment.

The story remains true to the book and very little is left out which is reason three why people might skip this movie. At just a hair over two and a half hours, this is not a large soda movie. It is one where the time passes quickly and you do not realize just how long you've been glued to the screen.

Now, the basic story is one of a murder mystery. The aging patriarch of a wealthy family has been searching for his missing niece for forty years. During that forty years, her murderer has been torturing him by sending him gifts every year on his birthday – the same gift that she gave to him when she lived with him: A pressed and framed flower. Now, the gifts come from all over the world, with different postmarks and no return addresses. The patriarch is tortured by the gifts and only wants to know where his niece's body is so he can give her a proper burial and have closure. Due to an accident on the only bridge off of the small island that their house is located on, he is sure that she was murdered on the night of her disappearance, by a member of the family, and isn't sure which member of the family is responsible. As the movie progresses, all the discontent and hatred the other family members have for each other is revealed and Stieg Larsson goes on to prove Tolstoy's axiom: Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. In the end, though, you find out what happened to Harriet, the niece, and Michael and Lisbeth survive, despite being a little worse for the trip.

The true beauty of this film is definitely the acting jobs by Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. Noomi Rapace gives the very flawed and very disturbed character of Lisbeth depth. Lisbeth is a hacker extraordinaire but she's lacking in communication skills and the ability to interact with others in a healthy manner. Her stark look only emphasizes her distance from “civilized” society. Michael Nyqvist creates a Blomkvist who is bitter over losing his position with the magazine that he founded and his pending prison term yet is reaching out to this social outcast. In the book, Blomkvist is a member of a loose poly-amorous triad who doesn't understand how his partner's husband could put up with the relationship that he has with Lena. With Lisbeth, he has to come to terms with not being in control of anything in the relationship. Their relationship and their sexual intercourse is strictly on Lisbeth's terms. And she views sex as one would think that a man typical does. In fact, its quite funny to see her get up and go back to her own bed after sex as one would imagine a man would like to do. She begrudgingly gives in when he requests 'snuggle time'.
This is a movie I would recommend that you go out and rent tonight. It is simply well done on many levels. It will leave you wanting to go to Sweden and walk among the fjords. It will also have you checking the family skeletons in the closets, just to make sure they are still there.

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