Swede noth­ings

The adap­ta­tion of part two of Stieg Lars­son’s Mil­len­nium tril­ogy leaves Don­ald Clarke cold

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews -

10

STIEG LARS­SON’S Mil­len­nium tril­ogy is a pub­lish­ing phe­nom­e­non. En­thu­si­asts ar­gue that the Swedish nov­els – fol­low­ing the ef­forts of a punk­ish re­searcher and an older, more griz­zled jour­nal­ist to un­ravel a mighty con­spir­acy – man­age to com­bine clever rev­er­sals with gen­uine emo­tional punch. This may well be so. But the the first part of the film adap­ta­tion, The Girl with the Dragon Tat­too, be­gan to run out of puff some­where into its sec­ond hour. The sec­ond in the se­quence, though class­ily di­rected by Daniel Al­fred­son (brother of Let the Right One In’s To­mas), never man­ages to get the air back into its lungs. Few such sen­sa­tional films have seemed quite so re­lent­lessly dull.

The spine of the story is rel­a­tively straight­for­ward: when Lis­beth Sa­lan­der (Noomi Ra­pace), the tit­u­lar com­puter whizz, is framed for the murder of a cam­paign­ing re­porter, Lis­beth’s friend, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), also a jour­nal­ist, sets out to clear her name. Do­ing jus­tice to the un­rav­el­ling plot would, how­ever, re­quire more paper (and pa­tience) than we can muster. There’s a great deal about sex traf­fick­ing. A mys­te­ri­ous in­di­vid­ual named Zalachenko lurks in the metaphor­i­cal un­der­growth. A pe­cu­liar boxer ap­pears mo­men­tar­ily for no good nar­ra­tive pur­pose.

There is, it must be said, no chance of you fall­ing asleep dur­ing The Girl Who Played with Fire. Not that the film isn’t bor­ing – it’s just that the bleed­ing phone won’t stop bleed­ing ring­ing all the bleed­ing time. Huge swathes of in­for­ma­tion – de­tails on births, deaths and im­mo­la­tions – are re­layed via ap­par­ently end­less con­ver­sa­tions on anx­iously clutched re­ceivers. For the an­glo­phone viewer, tak­ing the in­for­ma­tion in via sub­ti­tles, the ex­pe­ri­ence is like read­ing a drab case re­port by a par­tic­u­larly pedan­tic in­ves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trate.

When the film al­lows us mo­ments of ac­tion, it does so in the mous­tache-twirling style of a silent ad­ven­ture se­ries. If Lis­beth gets tied to the rail­ings, you can be sure that some con­ve­nient sharp ob­ject will fa­cil­i­tate es­cape just be­fore the lo­co­mo­tive crushes her brains. So, the vil­lain has his gun trained upon you? Just throw some mud in his face. That ought to do the trick. The less said about the hench­man with anal­ge­sia – good grief, they stole that from a Pierce Bros­nan Bond film – the sooner re­la­tions be­tween Swe­den and The Ir­ish Times can be prop­erly re­paired.

The end ef­fect is al­ter­nately ris­i­ble and stul­ti­fy­ing. Yet, what with the con­clud­ing part of the Swedish cy­cle in the can and David Fincher’s English-lan­guage ver­sion loom­ing, there’s four more of these things to come. Yikes.

irish­times.com/cul­ture

Fail­ure to ig­nite: Noomi Ra­pace in The Girl Who Played With Fire

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