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The Girl Who Played With Fire (10/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 129 minutes.
Not for children.
This is the second in the trilogy of books
written by the late Stieg Larsson about Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace)
and her investigative journalist friend, Mikael Blomqvist (Michael
Nyqvist). When Larsson died in 2004, he left behind three unpublished
manuscripts, which have been published one by one, the first in 2005.
Each has been a phenomenal best seller. Iíve read two of them and they
are spellbinding, the kind of book that keeps you awake at night.
The Girl Who Played With Fire takes up
about a year after the conclusion of the first, The Girl With the
Dragon Tattoo, with someone trying to kill Lisbeth. While not
absolutely necessary, I think that in order for this to have the maximum
appeal, one must have either seen the first, or read the first book. I
say this because I took a friend to my screening after explaining in
pretty stark terms what happened in the first. Even though some of the
scenes from the first are replayed here as part of the setup, she was
ambivalent about the film. Everyone else at the screening (at least the
people with whom I spoke) thought it was terrific. But they had either
seen the first, or read the book, or both.
This one has a different director than
Dragon, with Daniel Alfredson taking over from Niels Arden Opley.
The script had different writers, too, with Jonas Frykberg taking over
from Nikolai Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg. Although I liked the first
film, I felt it didnít really live up to the excellence of the book. For
one thing, it downplayed the violence played upon Lisbeth by one of the
characters. I havenít read this book, so had nothing with which to
compare the film. Perhaps as a result, I found this tense and
compelling. Alfredson keeps the pace moving despite the run time.
In this one, two journalists who are close to
exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe
and Sweden are murdered. Lisbethís prints are on the murder weapon.
Mikael is the only person convinced of Lisbethís innocence and sets out
to prove it, an investigation that could implicate highly placed members
of Swedish society, business, and government. Lisbeth has to take
matters into her own hands, and capable hands they are. But this is why
one should either read the first book or see the film because thatís the
only way to really know what kind of a person Lisbeth is. Thatís not to
say you canít enjoy this film without that knowledge, it just makes this
film a lot more enjoyable if you know everything that came before.
Rapace does an outstanding job of creating a
most unusual female protagonist, the bi sexual, tattooed, antisocial
Lisbeth. Why she is the way she is, is explained again even if itís not
on the detail one gleaned from an entire film or book.
Unfortunately, there is a graphic lesbian sex
scene that was unnecessary. It would suffice to allude to the
relationship, rather than to actually watch it be consummated on screen.
But this is a Swedish film, after all.
I donít know if it was the print showed at the
screening, but the color was faded or washed out. The subtitles,
however, were excellent, never blending in. Despite the few flaws
mentioned here, this is a highly entertaining thriller. In Swedish.