Swe­den’s Sa­man­tha Spade

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards For The New Mex­i­can

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

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