You know how people say “funny but not funny ha ha”, with a degree of self-consciousness and momentary inarticulacy to mean “odd”? The movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” felt that way to me – that it drives the point across very well, but in a ponderous, awkward way. Always, as a viewer, I felt the creaking of the nuts and bolts of the story. As if the movie was trying to scream over the plot itself, “Take me seriously, dammit, I am a NOIR film. I’m dark, I’m European. That’s right, ma cherie (or whatever the Swedish equivalent). I am…noir.”
The plot was tightly woven and its characters well-drawn. All was achieved, unfortunately, with such technical precision that the beauty is lost. It felt like looking at the designs of a Jaeger LeCoultre watch without feeling its smooth, cold face, or smelling the new leather. Or perhaps a better way to describe the disconnect I felt watching the movie would be a paint by numbers set. The elements are there, but it does not mean that the end result would be Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
What was unforgivable, to me, was how this reduced the rape depicted in the movie to a cheap attempt at pulling at the heartstrings, to provide justification for the heroine’s character (Lisbeth) and actions, without actually explaining satisfactorily why she turned out the way she did – a hacker/rebel type. That she could be typecast in itself is an insult to the character. It makes the rape just another example of how the system has failed for the people on the fringes, and in its depiction, trivializes the event. This was a singularly tasteless way of depicting rape in fiction.
There was also in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo an element of predictability. A sad testament to the obviousness of the story – by the time the mystery was outlined fully, I could (accurately) predict the ending.
Perhaps if the movie had not received such buzz, I would not feel quite as deflated (as always, expectations vs reality). Also, if I had not already watched/read other (better) darkish-noirish films/books, I might have been wowed by the movie. But I have, and this film failed to move me.
Conclusion: A slick production with little heart.