A Kick & A Swing

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the first entry in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. I can’t say I’m familiar with the books, but I had seen the original Swedish film before seeing this American remake.

The story follows two characters: Mikael Blomkvist, a recently shamed through conviction of libel reporter, and Lisbeth Salander, a young technologically savvy security consultant and investigator.

The first third of the film often deals with the troubles in Lisbeth’s life, but the real meat of the story is how Blomkvist is hired to investigate the 40 year old disappearance of a rich older businessman’s niece, Harriett Vanger. The Vanger’s live on a small Swedish island accessible only by bridge. Harriett’s uncle Henrik is convinced that someone in the family murdered her, and has since been sending him a framed flower every year, something that Harriett used to make for him.

Part way into the investigation Blomkvist seeks out Salander to help him, and the two of them go deeper into the clues available.


  • Like I said, I’ve seen the Swedish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film, and this one is better. The American version benefits from a much larger budget. 90 million vs 13 million. And a director(David Fincher) who is somewhat of a master of what I’ll call neo-noir.
  • Within the first five minutes of Rooney Mara being onscreen I was sure she was going to be doing an impression of Noomi Rapace(who played Lisbeth in the Swedish films) the entire time, but as the film continues she really dives into the role. I loved her performance.
  • The sound editor, or foley person, whoever was responsible for what I referred to in the title of this review as “a kick” and “a swing”, bless you. There are scenes involving a kick when Lisbeth is with her new guardian, and a golf club swing toward the end of the film that have such great audio they took already memorable scenes to the next level. If you’ve seen this, or someday get around to seeing it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score style fit this film much better than it did The Social Network. Sure, it plays like instrumental b-sides from Nine Inch Nails “The Fragile” (Ghosts I-IV), but it works.


  • The main mystery is solved, and then there’s 20 more minutes of movie. I like how they explain everything better than the Swedish film did, it’s probably to set up the sequels better, and maybe that’s just how the book is. Either way, it felt a little odd.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a very good movie. It’s a little long at 2 hours and 40 minutes, but it’s worth it. Rooney Mara gives a breakout performance, and David Fincher proves he’s the perfect director for this job. See it if you haven’t. If you’re a fan of the Swedish film you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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