In true Bergmanesque fashion this languid Swedish gem of a movie starts slowly and gradually speeds up to walking pace. But let that not put you off. It’s an understated little gem of a thriller that gradually unfolds with a complex and multilayered story that is packed full of repressed sexual abuse messages.
At its core a political activist and writer (Michael Niqvist playing Michael Blomqvist) is hired by an industrialist to solve the 40 year old mystery around the disappearance of a slightly loopy teenage girl. Running simultaneously is the back story of a young super hacker (Lisbeth played by Noomi Rapace). Although a lesbian she gradually falls for, 30 years her senior, Blomqvist.
Everything about this movie is subtle, even the fact that at no point in the movie is there any reference to its title, other than in one beautifully shot scene and even then it’s almost incidental. The chemistry between Lisbeth and Blomqvist is so delicate you think it will shatter at any second, instead it grows millimetre by millimetre into a great double act. For that one has to applaud director Neils Adren Oplev whose work is unfamiliar to me.
It’s to be released next year as a Holywood remake with Daniel Craig replacing Blomqvist in the male lead role but bravely, the studio has stuck with the beguiling Rapace in the title role and =as it’s to be irected by Michael Fincher we can expect good things because at the core lies a brilliant story that has been brilliantly written. (in fact in many ways this movie reminded me – albeit in a much lower key way – of Se7en.)
It centres around abuse of all kinds, fundamentally sexual, but also racial and religious all wrapped together in a neat package that carries a strong moral and emotional punch and the good news is that the other two books in this series have also been filmed by the same team and are due for release BEFORE Hollywood enters the fray.
It’s out on DVD now but please choose to watch it the way it was intended. In Swedish with subtitles, not the coward’s way out (overdubbed in English).