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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Run Time 152 Minutes.

Not for Children.

Scion of a wealthy family, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) is obsessed with the disappearance of his niece, Harriet (Ewa Fröling), 37 years ago. He hires disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvest) to investigate. Mikael brings Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a genius with the computer, to help him. Salander is one of the more unique protagonists one will ever see. She is tattooed and thoroughly pierced with rings through her nose and ears and other places.

This film, directed by Niels Arden Opiev, is based on the bestselling novel by Stieg Larsson, who wrote two sequels and then died of a sudden heart attack in 2004 at the age of 50. His trilogy made him the world’s second bestselling author in 2008.

While the book concentrated on Blomkvist as the protagonist, the film makes the story about Salander, and that’s probably a good decision. There are scenes of sexual depravity and torture that almost got the film an X rating. But the scenes aren’t that graphic and leave lots to the imagination.

While this is a good murder mystery, it is an even better film about a strong woman who refuses to be a victim. Rapace gives a stirring performance as the weird, disadvantaged woman helping Mikael.

Unfortunately, this well-made film is burdened by horrible subtitles that often blend in with the background. It boggles my mind that filmmakers allow white subtitles over a white background. Why can’t all subtitles be like those in “The Baader-Meinhof Gang,” which were superb, large white subtitles with a black border so they can blend with any background? Since it can clearly be accomplished, why do filmmakers still insist on subtitles that are often illegible? Is it laziness or cheapness?

While not nearly as good as the book, this is still an entertaining film, despite its length. Maybe if I hadn’t read the book I would have given it a higher rating. But maybe if I had read “From Here to Eternity” before I saw the film, I wouldn’t think that film one of the best, either.