Review of The Movie Version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

Sunday we went to see the movie version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Both my husband and I have read all three books in the trilogy, so there were no surprises. Nevertheless, I was biting my nails through a lot of the movie.

The movie has subtitles, but that didn’t detract from the experience at all. Nor did the convoluted plot strands, which the director presented using photo montages to substitute for wordy explanations. We noticed a few changes in the plot from what happened in the book, but presumed they were made to streamline the story.

For any who have not yet read the book, the plot involves the search for a girl who disappeared forty years before, and the discovery that some gruesome murders of women are somehow linked to the case. The missing girl’s uncle, Henrik Vanger, employs a muckraking journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, to investigate. Blomkvist is available since he is currently out of work subsequent to a libel accusation. Blomkvist hires an idiosyncratic but inspired computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, to help. As they get closer to discovering what happened, their lives also become endangered.

The casting is excellent – actress Noomi Rapace becomes Lisbeth right before your very eyes, and Michael Nyqvist is perfect as Mikael Blomkvist. We were all the more impressed because so much emotion was conveyed by both of them with no dialogue at all. In fact, I felt I finally understood Lisbeth in ways I hadn’t been able to just from reading the book(s). The only disappointment was Lena Endre as Mikael’s boss Erika Berger. In the book she is portrayed as attractive and dynamic. In the movie she seems more like a stressed-out whiny co-worker.

Lisbeth and Mikael

The character of Lisbeth in the movie, just as in the book, is unforgettable. Quoting the movie review from,

“We recognize a ferocity in her that the men here are too arrogant or psychotic to appreciate. Few of them see the enormous dragon tattooed on her back, but if they could, they would know that dragon should be wearing a tattoo of her. The beauty of Rapace’s performance is its marriage of watchfulness to action.”

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander

It’s a movie I highly recommend, especially if you’ve read the book. (We both wondered, however, if we could have followed it if we hadn’t read the book, but it’s impossible to know.) One big caveat: they apparently don’t shy away from showing rape and torture in Sweden, and some parts were so painful to watch I had to cover my eyes.

Still, don’t let that stop you from seeing it. As The Washington Post reviewer said:

“It’s the rare 2 1/2 -hour film that doesn’t make you look at your watch once. ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is such a film…. like a good book, the plot is so engrossing, the characters so rich and complex, the mood of gloom mixed with glimmers of hope so all-encompassing that the thought of its actually ending never occurs to you…. “

That observation is so true. I was shocked to discover how much time had passed when we exited the theater.

Noomi Rapace: You don't see this smile even once in the movie! Credit: Kikapress


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22 Responses to Review of The Movie Version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

  1. A must watch movie for me!

    I have read the first two books. Looking forward to read the third, which is not as yet available in India.

    And when this movie gets released here, I will watch that too. Lisbeth is one person who stays in mind. My nephew is reading the books and is very glad that I gifted both my copies to him.

    BTW, I wrote a review of The Girl Who Played With Fire a short while back and scheduled for it to come up tomorrow.

  2. Sandy says:

    Aaaaaaaack! That is me screaming because I can’t WAIT to see this movie. It is coming to our little indie movie theater on May 7. My girlfriends and I are so there.

    • Sandy,

      We also had to go to our indie theater, and morever, had to do it quickly, since indie theater runs don’t last very long! What a shame “regular” theaters aren’t carrying this one!

  3. Richard says:

    I saw this movie a few weeks ago, Jill, and found it very easy to follow despite not having read any of the Millennium novels yet. I, too, thought it was very entertaining and that both leads did outstanding jobs. Not the greatest movie ever but a good time! P.S. Subtitles are the best! You get to hear the actors and actresses in their original voices and still get a translation. Dubbing’s for Godzilla fans, lazy people, and cultural chauvinists, and don’t let anybody tell you any different!!!

  4. Steph says:

    This is playing at the local indie theater but I haven’t made up my mind as to whether to see it or not. As you know, I didn’t love the book, and based on what I read, I wouldn’t really want to see a film based on it! Too much violence and brutality for me, I think!

    • Steph,

      Ordinarily I wouldn’t see any film featuring violence against women. But the “bad” scenes don’t take up a large amount of time in this movie, and although they were still hard for me to watch, the overall movie was worth it. It isn’t even that the story itself was so good, but the characterization – Mikael and Lisbeth – these are performances worth seeing!

  5. Julie P. says:

    YAY! I was so happy to click on your blog and see this post. I absolutely loved the first book and have heard that the movie doesn’t disappoint!

  6. ibeeeg says:

    Well, now I know that I really must read this book AND then watch the movie. Saw the book at the store yesterday, going back to purchase it today.

  7. Margot says:

    I’m glad to hear they made a movie of this. My d-i-l is reading the first book and absolutely loving it. It’s all she can talk about. I’ll have to see if the movie is playing here. She will like that it is only at indie theaters.

  8. Ti says:

    The movie was only in Los Angeles for a total of three weeks and only two showtimes a day! I missed it, as I did The Road when it came out in limited theatres. I have it in my queue on Netflix for whenever it comes out.

  9. Serena says:

    I haven’t read these books because I’m waiting for the final book in the series, but I am looking forward to seeing the movie!

  10. bermudaonion says:

    I’m so glad to see this is good! A friend of mine and I are hoping to go see this, but so far, it’s not showing locally. We’ve talked about going to see it in Asheville when it comes there.

  11. Now that review has made me think that I better get my butt in gear and read these books so that I can watch this movie!!! I bought the first one so I have NO excuse not to read it!

  12. Nymeth says:

    I haven’t read the books, so I’ll wait until after I have to watch this, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this!

    Also, I share Richard’s anti-dubbing stance 😛 I wonder if I feel so strongly about it because I grew up watching English movies with subtitles?

  13. Jenners says:

    Ohhh… I can totally see her as Lisbeth!! YES!
    And now I can see that guy as Mikael.
    This is playing near us … I’m going to have to try and go see it!!!

  14. Alyce says:

    The photo with her smiling looks like a completely different person from the photo from the movie. I’m pretty sure I won’t ever see this though because of the nature of the story and how graphic it is.

  15. Cara Powers says:

    I reviewed this movie too, not having read the book. I absolutely loved it. I went home and bought all three of the books for my nook.

  16. softdrink says:

    Darn, it sounds like I should’ve taken my mom up on her offer to go see the movie!

  17. Lisa says:

    I thought about seeing this but it sounds like I should get through the books first and I’m the only person on the planet that hasn’t read any of them.

  18. Jenners says:

    I had to go back and reread this again as I have the memory of a gnat and couldn’t remember what you had said … hard to believe that is the same girl!!! And, as usual, we are on the same wavelenght. In fact, it is lilke I subconciously remembered your review and rewrote it! ; )

  19. I both read the book and watched the movie! But liked the book better! 😀

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