Sweden’s Samantha Spade
IThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, murder mystery, not rated, in Swedish with subtitles, The Screen, 3 chiles First things first. The girl does have a dragon tattoo, but blink and you will miss it. You’re more likely to remember the piercings, the angry black hair, the slouch, the goth attitude, the sullen expression. But none of these images lend themselves to a catchy title, although any of them would probably provide more box-office appeal than Men Who Hate Women, the original name attached to the bestselling book by the late Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the first novel of a trilogy (the other two, already filmed in Larsson’s home country, are The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) that Larsson finished before his death a few years ago from a heart attack at the age of 50. (Larsson’s outspoken journalistic advocacy against right-wing extremist groups earned him death threats, and some maintain that he was murdered.)
Larsson’s title was more to the point. There are men who hate women in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the novel’s chapters are introduced with chilling statistics on violence against women. The plot of the film, a streamlined adaptation of the novel’s more complex threads, zeros in on an investigation into the 40-year-old disappearance of a teenage girl, Harriet Vanger, the favorite niece of wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube, who looks like the Swedish cousin of James and Edward Fox). Harriet disappeared one afternoon in 1966 from the Vanger compound on an island in northern Sweden, under Agatha Christie-like circumstances that suggest she was murdered by a member of the family. No trace of her was ever found.
The Vanger family is full of likely suspects. Half of them were Nazis during the war, and most of them hate most of the rest of them. Vanger
Can you fear me now? Peter Andersson and Noomi Rapace