The Girl Who Played With Fire

Viewed – 20 November 2010  DVD

I was certainly a big fan of the last movie, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the first part of Stieg Larsson’s acclaimed Millennium Trilogy, which introduced me to a new iconic female hero in the shape of tragic, gothic computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace).  That movie’s plot involving the disappearance of a girl only hinted at the dark past of Lisbeth.  However this follow-up, involving an investigation into sex trafficking, exposes much more of what makes Lisbeth tick, and is therefore more revealing when it comes to her character. 

Lisbeth has been framed for a triple murder, the first that of her abusive lawyer / guardian who raped her in the first movie, and then that of two journalists ready to expose the sex trafficking.  On the run and desperate to prove her innocence, Lisbeth begins her own investigation, while at the same time, friend and respected Journalist Mikael Blonkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is also trying to clear her name. 

This is very complicated stuff, and sometimes I’ll admit to loosing my way, but regardless of whether or not the plot intricacies hold up, the overall drive of the story is that of Lisbeth and her past, all leading to a very thrilling conclusion.  Considering this sequel was made for TV I thought it retained much of the eye-catching cinematography of the first, and although lower key still had plenty of style, with a quality, mood setting soundtrack to keep this viewer gripped.  In comparison to the first movie I found it much less involving and it lacked the epic feel, but with several stand out moments, a couple of decent villains (admittedly rejects from old James Bond movies), and again a brilliant, gutsy performance from Noomi Rapace – this still managed to entertain and leave me thirsty for more.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

1 thought on “The Girl Who Played With Fire

  1. I thought this movie was okay until the very last shot when Lisbeth steps from her liosnmiue to reveal her million-dollar makeover. Are the filmmakers suggesting that her goth look was merely an emblem of her inability to deal in a healthy way with all the abuse she’d suffered? If so, then the ‘normalization’ of her appearance is equated with the idea of a healed psyche – a notion as superficial and paternalistic as just about everything Lisbeth despises. Or is it simply that the filmmakers think that all women harbor a latent French Riviera fantasy that only economic hardship prevents them from realizing? Because there’s nothing in her character AT ALL that even hints that Lisbeth in particular covets Gucci and Manolo. Had the film ended instead with the more ambiguous black-and-white surveillance photo, Lisbeth’s changed appearance would have made more practical sense as a disguise. But no – she embraces her ‘disguise’ as an actual lifestyle choice. After taking such pains to craft one of the most intriguing and complex female characters in recent cinema, the filmmakers reduce her to Kathleen Turner at the end of BODY HEAT. To my mind, this is just as offensive a rape of her character as the one we’re forced to watch earlier in the film. Let me put it another way: Do you think she had the dragon tattoo removed, too?


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