My rating: 9/10
Well, I finally got round to watching Niels Arden Oplev's phenomenon and my god what an incredible phenomenon it is.
As most will probably already know, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the first installment of the adapted 'Millennium' Series. The story is centred around the unresolved disappearance of Harriet Vanger some 40 years prior. Loving uncle Henrik is sure that she has been murdered by one of the Vanger family members but after so many years of investigating, has come up dry. He employs Mikael Bloomkvist to investigate further, and with help from Lisbeth Salander they begin to discover the shocking truths about the Vanger family's past.
Aside from the fantastic scripting, what I enjoyed the most about this film was Oplev's incredible use of lighting. The mood of the scene was captured so effortlessly by the way he displayed the light. He created a shadow effect on objects and character's in many of the scenes which seems like a key device to use within a mystery thriller to portray the unknown. The whole film itself had a dark tone about it that feels necessary in order for it to keep with the genre. It was interesting to see that after the mystery had been solved, everything became much brighter. This use of pathetic falacy is such a simple device but one that I feel always proves to be effective.
As mentioned, another thing I loved about the film was the screenplay and the story line we get from the novels. I particularly enjoyed seeing the development of Lisbeth's character. Her scenes at the beginning of the film with her sadistic boss initially seemed to be a bit unnecessary, however as the story unfolds it becomes quite clear why there is a need for them to be there. Her actions at the end are rectified by her past. I believe that had we not seen this past, her character would seem flat and we would lack understanding as to why she behaves in the way she does.
The actors playing the leads, Lisbeth and Mickael were both fantastic. They were believable as their characters and they provided us with the sense of wanting to go on the journey with them - which is pretty much all you need.
My only flaw with the story would be that the ending felt like a bit of an anti-climax. (SPOILER) After Mickael breaks into Harold's house, he seems far to willing to volunteer the information he knows about the previous killings and the Vanger family. It seemed to me that someone who a moment ago felt that he should keep everything between himself and Lisbeth, should not then go spilling everything to Martin Vanger...regardless of how certain he is that the killer is Harold. The fact that simultaneously, Lisbeth is discovering Martin is indeed the villain we know that Mikael has divulged information to the wrong person. For me, the way that it was Martin who the information was told to, just seemed like an easy and a slightly lazy way of getting the story from where it was to the big finish in the cellar.
I thought the use of music was great. It went against the obvious creepy, mystery thriller stereotype by opting for something that sounded more upbeat. I really liked this mechanism as it enhanced the films pace and gave it a real sense of 'thrill'. The cinematography was fantastic. Some of the Oplev's scenes were really beautiful and breathtaking at points. It all just seemed to look visually perfect on screen.
The very end of this film was very clever. It effortlessly set up it's sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' enough to inform us of what the film will be about but without giving us any idea as to what the actual content will contain.
All in all, this film is by far one of the best films I have seen this year and if the rest of the trilogy live up to the high bar that TGWTDT has set, then in my opinion, it will definitely go down as one of the greatest trilogy's made!