Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire: Grade C


The Girl Who Played Who Played With Fire (2009)

Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist , Lena Endre; Director Daniel Alfredson. (Swedish, subtitled).

Rapace still has her dragon tattoo in this cinematic installment of the wildly popular Stieg Larsson series of novels. She is Lisbeth, a young gothic woman recently released from a mental institution, where she was held for setting her father on fire. Lisbeth is wealthy, living off a trust fund, and she is an expert computer hacker. And oh, yeah, a master kick boxer too. She seems to be on the lam in Stockholm, doing what, we do not know.

But the story begins elsewhere, when Nyqvist, a reporter and publisher, is about to expose a government sex scandal. His informants are murdered and Lisbeths’ fingerprints are on the murder weapon. Suddenly she is hunted by the police (which she learns about by seeing a poster tacked to a phone pole. Maybe that’s what they do in Sweden). Nyqvist does not believe she did it, because of his relationship with her going back to Dragon Tattoo, but I can’t remember what that was. So the race is on: can he find and exonerate Lisbeth before the police get to her? (Yes, of course).

The character of Lisbeth is much stronger than the acting by Rapace, but she fills the role adequately with her chain smoking, furrowed brows, and multiple nose rings. Not much else, though. None of the acting is strong in this movie. The plot is always on the verge of confusion, but can be followed. Lisbeth doesn’t actually play with fire, and the shot on the DVD cover does not occur in the movie. That must be a trait that was in the book (which I haven’t read) that did not make it to the film.

Characters are cartoony, not realistically motivated, but you kind of expect that in a thriller. Scenery, sets, and costumes are excellent. It’s nice to see several views of Stockholm, a gem of a city I have visited only once. You see the stunning beauty of the area around the old town, but also some of the gritty neighborhoods. The directing / cinematography has the deadening syntax of television. The pace is slow, as most European movies are for Americans. If you edited out all shots of people getting in and out of motor vehicles and driving them around, the movie would be shorter by 10 minutes. Cut all shots of people walking on sidewalks, down hallways and across fields, and you have saved another 5 minutes. Save 10 more minutes by cutting out shots of people staring into computer screens and watching data scroll past. In the end, I didn’t care about the story or the characters, but overall, the film was mildly interesting and easy to look at.

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