I went into this film knowing nothing about the book it is based upon and with the incorrect assumption that I was going to be watching something akin to The Bourne series but with a double hard emo-chick who rides a motorcycle and has a cool tattoo. Instead I was treated to something quite different.
The girl with The Dragon Tattoo or Män som hatar kvinnor as it is called in it's native tongue is a thriller in which the titular 'girl' (Noomi Rapace) is seen but not heard for the majority of the movie and watches the genesis of the main plot from afar by hacking into investigative journalist's Mikael Blomkvist's (Michael Nyqvist) computer.
It's a plot device that allows for the introduction of a rather difficult and somewhat unlikable protagonist , who plays a passive role not only in the main story but in her life too. The girl's, Lisbeth's, money is controlled by her probation officer, who makes her relinquish more than control of her money to him also. It is not until she leverages control of both her own life and the probation officer by exacting an act of revenge upon him that she enters the life of Mikael and the story begins proper. By this time she and Mikael are two intriguing and full characters with a seemingly impossible task ahead of them: solve a 40 year old murder .
What follows feels a lot like a TV drama with Lisbeth and Mikael playing the part of the meddlesome, troubled but genius investigator pitting their selves against a cast of suspicious characters all with motive and opportunity and all with secrets too. As the two investigate their only lead an unbelievable relationship grows between the two of them which I can only assume is more believable in the book, but here it just seems like a concession to an adult audience who may otherwise grow tired of the Sunday matinée like fare.
An unlikeable lead, a plot that goes from the intriguing to the formulaic and a love affair that does not feel authentic didn't stop me from being utterly fascinated with the tale and beguiled by the setting: lush forests, snow covered fields an large open expanses filmed with reverence and love. The pace of the film and the performances are both fine, and the script is peppered with enough humour to both balance the darker themes and make up for the cheesy romantic interludes.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is on general release in the UK from the 12th of March.