movie: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

I love the GFT, great atmosphere, feels like a cinema, no-NEDs, quality movies!

As for “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest“, well it was OK.  I didn’t really have much choice but to see this as I have already seen The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by the way, all of these are about the same girl) and read the three books these movies are based on.  So, while I was looking forward to this movie I was also a little wary of it since the third book was the one I had the most trouble getting through.

These ‘dragon tattoo’ stories, also known as The Millennium Trilogy after the magazine that features in them, have been highly successful in both written and film format.  Even though the movies are in the original language and setting of Sweden.  The first book has a more or less ‘normal’ narrative structure, it has an objective that gets resolved, it introduces characters and the characters interact with one another.  The next two books, however, don’t follow these conventions.  The principal characters (Lisbeth Salander – the girl with the tattoo of a dragon on her back which is never really explained and infrequently mentioned, and Mikael Blomkvist – a journalist and co-owner of Millennium magazine, who drives the defense and support of Lisbeth) hardly ever meet, in deed in this last move it is only the very last few minutes of the film that has a very awkward conversation at her door.  The lack of romance is refreshing, but the sexual politics is difficult to get a handle on.

The third movie is one for the ‘fans’ (if you can be a fan of this sort of thing) – someone who has read the books or seen the other movies will probably enjoy this but I don’t think it is a movie that could stand on its own for someone to view with no prior knowledge of the story.  There are a number of flashbacks and recaps from past movies but I don’t think enough is explained to make much sense of what is going on.  Indeed the last book was so detailed that a great deal has been cut for the movie and, in my opinion, it only just holds together.  Knowing the back story it is easy to forgive what in the movie are random characters coming and going and the Frankensteins-monster figure of Lisbeth’s half brother who is repeatedly shown in incongruous cut-away scenes that make little sense if you don’t already know about him.

The mixture of politics, courtroom drama, action and thriller works well.  But what makes this movie, indeed all of these films, is the understated portrayal of Lisbeth.  Lisbeth is such a captivating character in the books that it is a difficult character to cast or act.  Lisbeth doesn’t actually do much – she refuses to talk a great deal of the time, she is in hospital or prison for most of this movie, she is a computer hacker, outcast, un-trusting character … how do you portray these things?  Equally Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist – a writer, there isn’t much acting to be done and the beauty of these Swedish movies is that they don’t try too hard and therefore loose these subtleties from the books.

However, Sony is currently adapting the trilogy for an American market, with David Fincher (Alien 3, Fight Club, Panic Room, The Social Network) as director, Daniel Craig playing Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as a far too pretty Lisbeth.  I will probably go to see these in turn but I suspect there will be a great deal of adaptation.

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