“Sometimes the thing that is the most difficult is the thing that you have to do.”

The direct Swedish translation of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”(2009) is: “Men Who Hate Women,” or “Man Som Hatar Kvinnor.” I’m told it makes more sense if you follow the whole trilogy. I don’t speak Swedish, and I don’t know the whole trilogy, but I got a good sense of it in the first movie.

I like the brilliant, awkward, damaged heroine, Lisbeth Salander, played by  Noomi Rapace. Pre-production, she really looks kinda… catholic school girl. The kind of catholic school girl who is about to turn bad, but is still figuring out all the things she isn’t supposed to do that she is wants to try.

Smoldering good looks help. Yeah, she is doing the “Napoleon Dynamite”(2004) mall photo session: “Put your hand on your chin, now tilt your head…” It’s the ‘glamor shots’ pose, but Noomi Rapace is kinda like the Swedish female Johnny Depp. No matter how you dress her/him up, you can still see the fast-running turbulence beneath the water’s surface. Deep and dark. Complex. Sultry. Enticing.

The movie follows the story of one man and his criminal research, but like any serial mystery, it’s the personal of the bare-bones investigator. Or steam punk computer hacker chic. This is a pretty challenging film to watch; gritty, urban, and often ugly. But it’s real. It’s brutality honest, and the honesty holds it’s own beauty in the raw truth.

Niels Arden Oplev directed this film. I looked at his body of work, and for some reason, it’s all Swedish. I haven’t seen any of it, yet. I wonder about the rest of the dragon/fire-girl trilogy. The fire theme echos the psychological environment of “Fire Walk With Me.”(1992) Semiotics: Fire is hot, it is dangerous, it also gives life. Multi-functional. Yin and yang. I understand why some people criticize David Lynch for being misogynist. I don’t care. I love David Lynch. I’m grateful for the unique slice of Americana that he has the balls/guts to deliver to us. “Blue Velvet”(1986), “Wild at Heart”(1990), “Twin Peaks”(1990-1991), “Mulholland Dr.”(2001), and “Dune”(1984). Woo. What a body of work. I think Lynch speaks a truth that makes certain people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because they’d rather not ever have to think of anything unpleasant. Some people want a big, poofy cushion away from reality. That’s what the suburbs are for. Plastic shelter from rural and urban reality. Well, retreat to your suburbs if you can’t handle real life. This idea’s also expressed in the movie. The class war is clearly defined, as it is in America. Money is power, and if you have enough money, you can do what you like, and there are no repercussions, no consequences. Conversely, if you’re willing to do what ever it takes, beg, borrow or steal, you can accumulate all the money you need. Maybe an oversimplification, but I think it has it’s place in our economy and political climate right now.

One of the things I like about this movie: it’s harsh, but it’s a carefully and lovingly-crafted harsh. Sweden, as a county, is supposed to maintain higher standard of living than us. Oh yeah? Sweden still has ghettos. There’s still poverty and despair. There is a dark, fantastical element in this film that creates cultural connections to “Let the Right One In”(2008). Maybe it’s just a Swedish thing.  I’m afraid that  america’s adaption of “Let the Right One In” will be a weak shadow of the Swedish film. I still hold on to the hope that it might be good, or possibly close to the original.(?)  Let’s cross our fingers, kids. As I wait for that, I’m going to see “The Girl Who Plays with Fire.”

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is still playing at the Hopkins two-dollar theater, as of this post.

Or, you can rent it cheaper and watch it as many times as you like over 4 days at Filmzilla, our favorite independently run video store.

Until next time.