Salander back but it’s more Hollywood than gritty
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB
Director: Fede Alvarez Cast: Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks, Sverrir Gudnason, Vicky Krieps, Stephen Merchant, Lakeith Stanfield, Claes Bang Running time: 117 minutes ★★
The antisocial hacker and ballbreaker Lisbeth Salander has finally made a return to the big screen in this adaptation of David Lagercrantz’s fourth book of the Millennium series.
Departing from the brooding drama and gritty violence of Stieg Larsson’s first three stories, this tale instead heads down the more conventional Hollywood path.
Gone is the laser-focused indictment of misogyny. Gone is the To quote the Melody Maker circa 1998, “The sound of a buffalo being back ended into a wood chipper.”
Are you still playing the guitarlele?
Yep, the one I have is custom made by a guy called Roger Bucknall at Fylde guitar and it’s a very special instrument. Great for a different dynamic at solo shows.
When writing, do you fit words to music, music to words, or pull it all together at once?
Ninety-nine per cent of the time it’s words to fit melody. On occasion there’s a phrase that I’ll find really resonant that I write around but normally it’s music, melody then lyrics.
What is your favourite song to perform live and why?
A tune of mine called Blackbird. It’s tricky as it’s tough to get right and if it goes wrong it sounds awful. Played right, however, and it can be quite effective. The loopy guitar and counter vocals often send me into a bit of a trance, as if someone else is playing it . . . IF I get it right!!
Any new music on the horizon from yourself or Gomez?
We are planning to get together and write lucid paranoia or the slow-burning mystery. Here we have a middling spy-thriller that only loosely acknowledges its roots; I’m sure Larsson will be turning in his grave.
Consistent though, are Lisbeth’s (played by the excellent Claire Foy) knack for kicking some serious ass and her penchant for a bit of heroic crusading and vengeance.
Throw in a moral conscience, some family infighting, and a rogue piece of software on the loose (that allows a single user control of the world’s nukes . . . of course) and you
Describe your sound in one sentence.
in the New Year so, if all goes well, a new album should follow. Been too long.
What does success as a musician mean to you?
Creative freedom, communication, luck.
There’s not enough hours in a day — but what do you like to do most in your spare time?
Hang out with friends and family.
What message would you give any young person wanting to be a successful musician?
Make sure your songs mean something — it helps when you have to play them again and again.
You can only fit one album by another artist on your device — what is it?
Troubador, JJ Cale.
You’re curating a music festival. Who’s on the bill, alive or dead?
Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Kraftwerk, Television, John Grant, Beatles, Radiohead, Portishead, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Sly & the family Stone, JJ Cale, AC/DC. I’d let somebody else programme it. have a bitchy blend of Bond, Bourne and Batman. It’s all fairly conventional stuff; a very simple tale of fast cars (and bikes), preposterous motivations, a far-fetched use of tech, and disorienting action sequences all set to the backdrop of a forgettable soundtrack.
Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe) does bring about some visually striking set-pieces that make full use of his horror background, but unfortunately, the collective whole feels too episodic.
What is refreshing, though, are the traditional gender roles which have been turned on their head.
The chief power parts (on both sides of the ledger) are strong active women, with men being relegated to the margins. At one point the film even acknowledges the passivity of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) as just a pretty face.
Unfortunately, this renders the excellent cast, many of whom have impressive credentials, as woefully underused.
Try as she might, Claire Foy’s commendable take on Lisbeth’s reckoning, or even Sylvia Hoeks’ (Blade Runner) chilling rendition as her sister can’t halt the inexorable pull of the film towards Hollywood’s formulaic juggernaut.
— Toby Woollaston
Ben Ottewell says a new Gomez album could happen soon. plays Auckland’s Tuning Fork on November 14, supported by Being. Tickets from Ticketmaster.
Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.