Watched the very recently released first part of a trilogy based Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books: Niels Arden Oplev’s take on Män som hatar kvinnor, Miehet jotka vihaavat naisia in finnish and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in english. I had doubts about being able to fit a 600+ page book into 150 minutes (and leaving room to provide some extra continuity for the later parts), but the movie is executed well enough for comfort.
But it’s far from perfect. Some of the simplification choices are more or less obvious – excising a couple of characters and subplots have left a lot more room for the main quest, but some are perplexing indeed. And in one case one of the protagonists is turned from a passerby to an active vigilante – not a wholly unbelievable turn of events, but quite against the line taken in the book.
Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, the quite deeply damaged female hacker has drawn accolades for her performance, and she is good at filling out the black leather of the estranged security consultant. But it’s Michael Nyqvist’s take on Mikael Blomkvist that’s the highlight of the cast. His investigative journalist combines steely determination with a healthy amount of swedish smugness to a coherent whole. Too bad the narrow space of the movie doesn’t allow for deeper exploration of the character – there’d been ample material to build from.
The movie is not an easy one to watch – ugly sex and even uglier violence are served in abundance. But neither feels gratuitous – the plot is advanced by the inclusion of both.
I still stand by my conviction that a book of this size and complexity would be better served with a high-budget mini-series, but this film was about as well realized take on the seedy swedish underbelly as can be expected.
The two remaining parts of the trilogy were originally planned to be released as direct-to-television movies, but the rampant success of the first installment has pushed the production company to release all three in theatres.
And speaking of the previously unknown production company, YellowBird – they have taken very aggressive steps to provide a lot more scandinavian mysteries for theatre and television.
A great beginning for the series – I’m definitely looking forward for the remaining duo.