Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

(Män som hatar kvinnor, Swedish, 2009)

(The excellent Swedish version.) Apparently I was one of the last people in the literate universe to hear the sad story of Stieg Larsson, the Swedish journalist who wrote and sold a trilogy of books, then promptly keeled over dead. Since then, the books have sold 27 million copies in 40 countries, making him the second-best-selling author in the world in 2008, and the best-selling dead one. The original Swedish title of this first book translates as Men Who Hate Women. I have read the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and eagerly await the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, due out in the US in May 2010. These are some of the best books I’ve read in years. The good news is that all three have already been made into movies in Swedish. (The second one is due to be released in July, the third in October.) The bad news is, they are almost certainly going to be remade in English, and I can 99% guarantee that Hollywood will fuck them up.

The stories are so good in so many ways, and they all revolve around the most fascinating female character I’ve encountered in many a year: Lisbeth Salander, a deeply disturbed, totally kick-ass, tiny computer hacker. This movie succeeds or fails entirely on the casting of the part of Salander, and I’m overjoyed to report that an Icelandic/Swedish girl named Noomi Rapace absolutely nails her. This is a relentless, violent, complicated movie that runs over 2½ hours and is one of the most faithful adaptations of a book I’ve ever seen. Some few things are omitted, but they don’t affect the power of this story. As I write this the movie is in limited release, slowly going wider. If it comes to your town—and you have the stomach for some scenes of strong violence—see this!